If you’ve ever wondered why you’ve been waiting so long when your car or truck goes in for service, it’s because Chester County, PA, is experiencing a severe shortage of auto service technicians.
“There’s a nationwide epidemic of auto technician shortages right now,” said Jim Willard, general manager of EuroMotorcars in Devon, PA. “The kids these days get pressured to go to college because going to technical school isn’t looked highly upon. There are more auto technicians retiring than there are auto technicians getting into the business.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are about 750,000 auto technicians and mechanics in the nation. To meet demand and respond to attrition, the industry will need about 46,000 more technicians by 2026.
In response to the crisis, Mercedes Benz USA, in cooperation with EuroMotocars in Devon donated two late-model vehicles to the Automotive Training Center in Exton. ATC is an automotive training school that trains auto technicians. One-year training at ATC costs about $36,000. The average cost of college for the 2017–2018 school year was $20,770 for public schools (in-state) and $46,950 for non-profit private schools, only including tuition, fees, and room and board, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“With this donation, we hope to infuse excitement and show the possibilities for the future for these young men and women,” Willard said. “Our company hopes other dealerships step up and join the movement to grow the industry and create more local jobs. We urge others to donate and do their part in helping our community.”
Willard said the donation is important because auto training centers rarely get late-model cars with advanced electronics to work on.
“It’s not about draining oil and putting brakes on cars anymore,” Willard said. “These cars today are computerized. Many schools do not have the latest and greatest autos to work on.”
According to the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA), U.S. technical colleges and training programs graduate about 37,000 service technicians every year. But the retail auto industry needs about 76,000 new technicians every year to keep pace with jobs being created. And that’s not counting auto technician retirements.
The result is an annual shortage of 39,000 trained technicians, in a nation that employs about 317,000 service technicians, about 19 per car dealership, according to NADA.
“Auto technicians today are making well into six figures,” Willard said. “There is a huge market for auto technician's right here in our backyard. People just aren’t getting into the field, and it isn’t just a Mercedes Benz problem.”