The National Automobile Dealers Association Foundation has launched a centralized website for technicians to find training courses and scholarships. Calling it the first of its kind, NADA said the consumer-facing nadafoundation.org website is the latest move in an ongoing effort to address a technician shortage in automotive retail.
"We really are facing a work-force crisis," said 2019 NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist, noting that every dealer seems to be facing a shortage of technicians.
NADA has some numbers that underscore what it said is a "critical shortage" in service technicians: Technical colleges and training programs graduate about 37,000 technicians each year, but the annual need for replacements is about 76,000. That's a 39,000-person gap that needs filling.
The website is intended to address this by promoting the benefits of the auto tech field and connecting interested prospects with training opportunities, such as courses at local community colleges and trade schools.
The NADA Foundation's broader Workforce Initiative is aimed at reversing the technician shortage through education and at changing the perception of the field. For example, auto retail could be losing many prospects to high-paying oil and gas work, with people assuming that decent money can't be made in auto tech. But according to NADA, the average dealership technician in the U.S. makes $61,067 in annual salary, plus benefits, while experienced technicians at franchised dealerships can make upward of six figures.
"Some of my highest-paid people are service technicians," said Gilchrist, president of Gilchrist Automotive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.