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Baby boomers are sinking your shop

Monday, October 15, 2018 - 06:00
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I have been in the automotive industry for over 40 years now, and the one thing I can say that has never changed, is change itself. For example, cars are being built so much better. Consumers are more educated and more demanding than ever, as the internet has become the go-to for almost everything. Technology, hybrids and electric vehicles are totally changing the game. Preventive vehicle maintenance has become more and more important to every motorist. These are the obvious changes, but what about the not so obvious ones? The not so obvious changes are usually the most vital changes to focus on. Conversely, they are often the most difficult to overcome. I was listening to one of our 28 full-time coaches that helped me start ATI, Geoff Berman, share with a class he was teaching on interviewing technicians when I thought you would want to hear what he said:

Stop technician recruiting frustration

According to Pew Research Center, baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day and have been since January 1, 2011. This trend will continue until December 31, 2030. In my 30-plus years in this business, I have never experienced a more difficult time than now to find good qualified staff. The consensus from the shop owners I speak with is the same.

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When I ask, I always get the same answers. “There aren’t as many vo-tech schools out there.” “No one wants to work in our industry.” “The schools are pushing all the kids into college.” “If they aren’t headed to college they are going into the computer field.” And the list goes on and on. My answer is always the same. These are the same challenges we have faced for the last 20-plus years. None of this is new. We are still seeing the same 5 percent coming into our industry that we always have. What has changed? What has created this giant hole in our labor pool? Most can’t answer that question because the answer is not that obvious. Or is it?

Every blue-collar industry out there is facing the same challenges. They can’t find good qualified staff. This means plumbers, electricians, HVAC companies, truck drivers, machine operators, etc., all desperately need skilled laborers. We all have the same challenge and for the same reason. Baby boomers are retiring.

Now without doing the numbers this may not seem as big a deal as it really is, so let’s take a look. In January 2008 EveryCRSReport.com reported that 55.5 percent of the labor force for repair and maintenance business across the country was made up of baby boomers. Think about that. More than half of our industry is made up of baby boomers and over the next 12 years they will be gone. Ever wonder why the same people you don’t want to hire keep answering your ads (the ones I call the leftovers). These are the ones no one will hire. There are so few good ones left you’ll never get them, because their employers will do anything to keep them. Wouldn’t you?

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