Tackling the technician shortage

Feb. 1, 2021
When we talk about solving the technician shortage, don't overlook the importance of working with local high schools and technical schools.

Everyone has been talking about the technician shortage for years. It seems like every shop I talk with is looking for a silver bullet solution that is going to help them find technicians immediately.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. In order to start fixing the technician shortage, shop owners and managers need to realize their efforts aren’t going to have an immediate return on investment. This is a tough pill to swallow, especially for those shop owners that have less than a decade left prior to hanging up your boots. However, the industry is in dire need of your support right now.

The value for shops in getting involved with schools

When we talk about solving the technician shortage, you’ll often hear conversations surrounding flat rate, benefits, and the overall perception and treatment of technicians. Those are all important issues, but for now, I’d like to address one aspect of combating the technician shortage that doesn’t often get talked about: The importance of working with local high schools and technical schools.

Shop owners often fall into the mentality of “time is money,” and have a hard time seeing the value in helping out local schools if it’s not going to get them qualified technicians right away. However, there’s a lot of value in helping out schools for shops.

  1. Your existing technicians think it’s important to help schools. In a recent WrenchWay Insiders survey, we found that 80 percent of technicians feel it is important for their shop to get involved with schools, yet when asked if their shop is involved with local schools, only 34 percent said yes. This is especially true for younger generations. It’s becoming more important to employees that their employers are giving back to their community in some way.
  2. You get your shop in front of future technicians earlier. Student technicians remember the shops that take the time to help educate them about the industry. So what happens when those student technicians graduate and start applying for jobs? They’re going to think of your shop first. Plus, it also helps remove some of the intimidation that young techs might have in approaching you for their first or second job.
  3. You build rapport with technical instructors. Similar to students remembering the shops that help out, instructors are paying attention as well. Don’t be that shop owner that approaches instructors for the first time at graduation asking for technicians.

5 easy ways shops can help out schools

There are many ways shops can help out local high schools and technician schools that don’t cost a lot of time or money. Below are some examples.

  1. Donations One of the easiest and most obvious ways to help out schools is by donating any tools, parts, or vehicles you have around the shop that you don’t need. 
  2. Speakers Offer to speak to a class about what it’s like to work in a shop. Better yet, send one of your technicians. In a recent WrenchWay Insiders survey, 88 percent of technicians said they’d be willing to speak to a class about their job. This is a huge opportunity that most shops are not taking advantage of.
  3. Student Work Opportunities Create opportunities for students to experience what it’s like working in your shop. This could be in the form of internships, apprenticeships, or mentorship programs. 
  4. Advisory Committees Join an advisory committee for a local school. Shop owners often complain that new technicians aren’t prepared to work in the shop. This is a great opportunity to offer your industry expertise on the curriculum. 
  5. Shop Tours and Job Shadowing Offer to give a class a tour of your shop, or allow students to sign up to job shadow one of your technicians. 

Getting started: How shops can connect with schools

Like anything else, the hardest part of helping out school is really just getting started. Thankfully, that part just got a little easier for you.

I’m extremely excited to announce that we just released a new tool that helps shops connect with schools. WrenchWay School Connect is a free tool that makes it easy for schools to connect with shops and dealerships, and get the resources they need to attract more students to technician programs and educate them about the industry. 

With WrenchWay School Connect, schools can post requests for anything they could use to improve their program. Shops can also post any resources they have available to schools. Posts are easy to browse for both sides, and they can easily message back and forth within the platform with questions or to discuss logistics. 

If you’re interested in learning more about WrenchWay School Connect, or signing up as an early user, you can contact us on our website, or reach out to: Christen Battaglia, Director of Strategic Partnerships, [email protected]

About the Author

Jay Goninen | CEO

Jay Goninen is the co-founder and president of WrenchWay and the founder and president of Find A Wrench. Goninen started working in his family’s independent repair shop at the age of nine and has worked in the industry ever since. He started his professional career as a technician and then moved into management roles within the automotive and diesel industries. Goninen is the host of the Beyond the Wrench podcast and the WrenchWay Weekly YouTube show.

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