Body Shops Experiencing Staffing Difficulties
Amid a growing need for trained and educated technicians, the auto body repair industry has been enduring a years-long trend of technicians leaving the field with no replacements in sight. I-CAR Senior Vice President Nick Notte recently stated that thousands of shop techs are leaving the industry each year without being replaced at nearly the same rate.
"I won't say it is an epidemic today in the collision repair industry, but it is getting close," Notte said in a recent interview. "The average age of a tech is approaching 50. It's difficult work, and they retire or move out of the industry."
Recent searches across popular job sites list several thousand open positions nationally for techs with I-CAR certified techs at a premium. Some larger employers have gone to the lengths of offering cash incentives to consider employment with their organizations with bonuses exceeding $5,000. Salaries are also on the rise, with some jobs posted boasting incomes of more than $100,000 per year, generous benefit packages, paid training, and programs intended to transition employees from technical vocational schools into shops.
One indication of a silver lining is that the collision industry has become interconnected with IT and other computer based fields, pushing the next generation of students a little closer to the field. "Suddenly parents are looking at collision repair, and maybe the automotive field in general, as being very worthy of their children serving it" Notte said. Hopefully an influx of talent will rejuvenate the industry, as the needs now far outweighs the pool of available techs.
Written By: Todd Hendrickson