I am responding to your Oct. 31 article, "Industry hustles for techs." In the article, (Universal Technical Institute CEO) Kimberly McWaters is paraphrased to say that "negative grease monkey stereotypes" impede recruiting automotive technicians.
That is partly true, but it is not the leading cause of the problem. Nobody seems to acknowledge that the flat-rate pay system is the leading cause of the shortage of qualified technicians.
McWaters also is reported to have said that a well-trained technician can earn a six-figure salary. To do that, we are talking about a person making 100 hours of production a week throughout the year.
A good technician performing quality repairs will typically make 50 to 60 hours of production a week under the flat-rate method.
I experienced that firsthand as a technician in a domestic new-vehicle dealership. I was the troubleshooter and did nothing but technical diagnosis, which I enjoyed. Still, the pay method was the infamous flat-rate system in which you basically make money based on the amount of repair work (services mainly) that you can perform.
The crude reality is that you can't make good money diagnosing vehicles. It does not pay well under the flat-rate system.
You make money performing services and repairs that require basic knowledge -- in other words, "gravy work."
Too many times, I saw technicians doing the gravy work because they could not (or did not want to) perform complex diagnosis. Hence the saying among technicians: "The more you know, the less money you make."
That is what I see drawing technicians to other careers or keeping them away from the automotive business.
Simply put, that career is not attractive to the talented, skilled individual who enjoys performing comprehensive diagnosis and quality repairs.
The current pay method penalizes knowledge and quality and rewards mediocrity.