According to NADA, U.S. technical colleges and training programs graduate approximately 37,000 service technicians annually, but that's not nearly enough. NADA says the retail auto industry needs roughly 76,000 new technicians every year to keep pace with jobs being created, plus retirements and replacements for technicians who leave the industry for other reasons.
The net result: The industry is experiencing an annual shortage of 39,000 trained technicians, said Gilchrist, who represents Detroit 3 brands plus Nissan, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi through his Gilchrist Automotive in Weatherford, Texas.
"If you could, would you hire a trained technician today?" Gilchrist asked his NADA Show audience. Hundreds and hundreds of hands went up, in an auditorium full of dealer principals, dealership managers and employees, family members and industry service providers.
Filling those empty seats in automaker training programs is an immediate goal of the new NADA program. It includes an interactive map on nadafoundation.org, where would-be trainees can find all automaker training programs in one place. The site also allows prospective technicians to search for jobs, scholarship opportunities or other information about careers in the industry.
"Toyota is only interested in where the Toyota centers are. Ford is only interested in where the Ford centers are. Chrysler is only interested where Mopar is," Gilchrist said. "Everyone is ignoring everyone else's programs."
Separately, FCA US announced on Jan. 25 it was expanding its technician training program and launching a networking campaign called "Assemble Your Future." The goal is to get students together with potential career opportunities at dealerships, at FCA, and with Dodge SRT and Mopar-sponsored professional racing teams.
The NADA Foundation also announced an initial round of donations for the Workforce Initiative, including $50,000 from the National Auto Auction Association, $50,000 from truck manufacturer Paccar and $25,000 from Porsche Cars North America. The NADA Foundation has donated an additional $250,000 to the effort.