Joe Henry, owner of ACT Auto Staffing and former body shop owner, sent us the below comments in response to Stacey Phillips’ “Solving the Tech Shortage” column, which invited additional input from the collision industry on the technician shortage. The column was published in the March 2019 edition of Autobody News.
Lately, industry “experts” are justifiably focused on the crescendo of a long, overdue overhaul of attracting young people to collision recruitment and training programs. However, I have not seen as much a feverish discussion TO SAVE the precious techs we have as well.
In my opinion, to understand what is happening today, it is best to envision it through a split screen. One side is for why young people who have less interest in our trade than a free trip to Chernobyl. The other side of the screen is occupied by the forces driving existing talented experts who can handle the massive tasks required by todays’ collision work, packing up their boxes on a truck and on to other ways of being liberated and making a living.
I am going to go full-throttle here ... because I can. Unlike many of you, my business (helping over 800 collision centers across the country fill technician positions), does not hinge on the main culprit of this dilemma: insurance carriers.
Let me start this discussion by introducing you to “ALICE.” No, she is not the owner of the restaurant in the Vietnam protest song. Nor is she my girlfriend or my wife’s girlfriend. ALICE describes most of your crew on the floor: Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. This new human resource and labor force nomenclature represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. In the case of a family of four, this would mean earning less than $60,000 annually.
Let me distill it a little further. Let’s say your team member on the production floor has a spouse or partner who makes $30,000 annually, and your person averages $14.42 an hour during a 40-hour workweek. Guess what? $14.42 X 40 hours X 52 weeks is $30,000 a year = ALICE ……