Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is looking to help dealers recruit and hire more service technicians.
The automaker outlined the goal during its make meeting Friday, saying it planned to add "1,000 technicians throughout the country," said Don Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls in Maine.
FCA recognizes that it will have to generate more interest in the service tech career track to build a pipeline of candidates. So the automaker intends to rev up recruiting efforts with a new networking campaign that links students with career opportunities.
The Friday announcement to dealers comes at a time when the automotive retail industry is facing a shortage of service technicians.
FCA, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said there are approximately 750,000 auto technicians working in the U.S. But the industry will need to hire another 46,000 between 2019 and 2026 to meet increased demand.
Lee said the make meeting was upbeat, with fewer complaints than in previous years.
Former CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died in July, was mentioned during the meeting and received a round of applause. Lee said the transition to new CEO Mike Manley has been smooth.
Speaking after the meeting, Lee said he is optimistic about 2019 with the Jeep Gladiator pickup coming along with the reworked Ram Heavy Duty lineup. Ram's heavy-duty truck interiors have been infused with luxurious touches such as woodgrain and leather.
"They were tooting their horn a little bit," Lee said of factory officials in the meeting. "They had a good year."