Automotive suppliers and equipment manufacturers, like automakers, are working to boost the supply of well-trained service technicians at dealerships. In some instances, they provide scholarships to aspiring techs; in others, they partner with colleges and trade schools to match curricula with needed skills.
Here are some examples of what suppliers are doing:
SNAP-ON TOOLS: The company works with more than 70 postsecondary schools and professional groups to design curricula that will enable students to earn repair certifications. Students can cite such certifications as proof of their skills when they seek jobs as techs.
Snap-on works with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles through the Mopar Career Automotive Program to advance tech training. It also donates tools and equipment to its partner schools.
HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS: In 2017, the company awarded more than $500,000 to teachers and programs in public high schools to promote instruction in skilled trades, including automotive. This year, Harbor Freight plans to boost the amount of prize money to $1 million.
FEDERAL-MOGUL: Through its Garage Gurus program, the supplier offers 12 scholarships of $2,500 each school year, awarded to students in accredited tech training programs.
PPG INDUSTRIES: The paint supplier provides four scholarships of $5,000 apiece each year to students who pursue training in collision repair.
SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT MARKET ASSOCIATION: Last year, SEMA provided 53 scholarships of as much as $5,000 to students pursuing automotive careers, including service tech, collision repair, diesel repair and auto restoration.
3M: The company says it has donated more than $10.5 million in money and support to the Collision Repair Education Foundation, along with $500,000 to SkillsUSA, which helps promote interest among young people in collision repair and automotive technology.
Since 2013, 3M has raised more than $1 million in scholarships for about 330 military veterans and other students to enroll in collision repair programs. The company also is working with the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair to design online instruction that can lead to collision tech certification.