At the end of 2019, franchised new-vehicle dealers had a total of 267,087 technicians, including body shops, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.
To help fill those ranks, NADA said about 39,000 new service techs graduate from U.S. technical colleges and training programs each year. But the industry needs 76,000 techs annually to replace those lost to attrition and to meet new demand, the association says.
What effect the pandemic will have on those numbers for 2020 and 2021 is still unknown.
There could be less pressure on hiring, says Harry Hollenberg, managing director of Carlisle & Co., because some techs who might have retired in 2020 will keep working and some who might have left for other jobs will stay instead.
"With almost 15 percent unemployment and probably going higher, you're probably going to see in the short term a reduction in turnover at the technician level and probably a slight increase in the ability to attract new technicians for dealers who still feel they have capacity gaps," Hollenberg said.