Those who attended last month's National Automobile Dealers Association Show in San Francisco had plenty to talk about: irksome factory mandates for dealership improvements, the inevitable transition — desired or otherwise — of their businesses to mobility centers, the impact of President Donald Trump's tariffs on auto retailing.
But getting at least as much attention at the NADA Show was a more nuts-and-bolts (literally) concern: How will dealerships find, hire, train and keep the technicians they need to staff their service bays, amid a growing shortage of, and cutthroat competition from other industries for, tech talent?
The numbers are increasingly alarming. New-vehicle dealerships employ about 317,000 service technicians — an average of 16 per store, NADA says. But nearly 30 percent of techs are leaving their jobs every year. NADA warns that franchised dealerships will have to hire 76,000 technicians this year — and a similar number annually through 2026 — just to fill expected openings.
The TechForce Foundation reports that the number of graduates of postsecondary auto tech training programs continued to drop in 2018. NADA estimates that such programs will produce about 37,000 new techs this year — less than half the number that dealerships will need.