Nation facing pending mechanic shortage

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Auto mechanic

There is a pending mechanic shortage since, as is currently common with many skilled trades, fewer people are entering into careers as automotive technicians. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Whether one knows it or not, we all depend on a variety of people doing skilled trades to basically exist. Cars can’t run without mechanics, especially since few people do most of their own car repair and a mechanic shortage is soon to become reality.

Cars to stop running, planes to fall out of sky due to mechanic shortage

Not everyone appreciates all the jobs that need to be done in order for most aspects of daily life to be possible. Dealing with trash requires a garbage service, technicians have to maintain power and phone lines, cars need mechanics, etc. All these jobs require people with specialized training, referred to as “skilled labor.”

What many don’t know is that skilled labor is actually in relatively short supply. According to the Wall Street Journal, a number of industries employing skilled tradesmen have been reporting shortages for some time, among them, according to USA Today, is a mechanic shortage.

It doesn’t apply solely to car mechanics; articles reporting an aircraft mechanic shortage can be found dating back a decade or more, such as a PBS article about that subject dating to September 2000.

Grease monkeys in demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, demand for automotive service technicians will grow by 17 percent, higher than normal. Part of that has to do with the fact that some of the most skilled in the trade aren’t going to be working by that point.

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A survey of GM, Ford and Chrysler mechanics at dealerships by consulting firm Carlisle and Co., found that the average age of a mechanic working at a dealership was in their early 40s, meaning the people manning the service bay in the typical Albequerque, Salt Lake, Green Bay or Spokane dealerships aren’t getting any younger.

While the DIY enthusiast may celebrate as their glorious moment of forced self-reliance has come, bear in mind that cars are much more complex than they used to be. In times gone by, most maintenance was doable with a few wrenches and screwdrivers. Today’s car mechanics use a laptop and troubleshooting is more important than just spinning a spanner.

Prospects for those interested

The mechanic shortage also extends to diesel technicians, according to WyoTech, one of the nation’s largest technical colleges for mechanics, and there are more diesel cars primed to hit the road given the premium on fuel efficiency. Diesel mechanics also work on more than just cars, as heavy equipment and other machines use oil-burning power plants.

Those who think they would enjoy a career as a car mechanic should probably be warned that the field is going to require a lot of training and ability to keep up with changing technology. A decent ability in math and science is a must. Starting salary, according to USA Today, is around $36,000 for most, though the more skilled technicians, such as those who work in service stations at dealerships next to the offices where auto lending goes down, might make as much as $60,000, with some seniority.


Wall Street Journal

USA Today



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