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I guess it all depends Joe. I was one of those entry level techs giving an opportunity 10 years ago. I graduated from UTI with no experience in the field I was in the army for 4 years but not as a mechanic. I was hired by Ford as a MLR tech just doing oil changes and brakes. What helped me succeed was my willingness to learn and not afraid to ask for help. I was fortunate to have a old timer master tech that took me under his wings and teach me a lot within a year I was comfortable working on my own. No body starts knowing but I feel as long as the person likes his trade and is willing to listen they can become great techs.

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As a newer tech in the industry, my foundation was working on my own car and family cars, but that was mostly maintenance work and part swapping. Now-a-days in this "right now" world, most people will not allow a family member to take some time to try to figure out a complicated problem, which I don't necessarily blame them. Add to the fact that most job listings, even GST listings, are asking for 2-5 years of experience for entry level positions, and it makes it even harder for a young tech to build on those fundamentals.

Even in my new dealer job, where I was hired as a n hourly tech to fill the gaps, I am most often used to pick up the lube tech's slack and then when I wander over in down time to help and observe the A tech on a diag issue, I am often pulled away for an oil change, or to clean up the shop equipment area. I understand paying your dues and this work needs to be done, but where would I build on these fundamentals in these working situations? I don't expect a shop to fully train you from no experience or knowledge on, but the shop has to be responsible for building the techs foundation as well, to ensure future techs will be available. This career is unique in that you need thousands of dollars invested into tools to get the experience you need, and that there is no substitution for that experience.

I would be willing to assume that you are seeing a lot of these young guys coming fresh out of school or after a brief stint in a dealership. The school can only teach theory and the dealership is not interested in building a tech, they prefer the revolving door method. I am glad to know guys like you, Joe, are interested in young techs and the desire to plant the seeds and water them. It's just very hard, more today than ever, to get those foundations as a young tech.

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I have two "young" techs in my shop. One grew up working on a farm and has a very high mechanical ability and the other one is learning while we go. I like you Joe searched out the younger guys as I was one (about the same times these guys were born. LOL). I enjoy training guys who are willing to learn to the way "i" want things done in my shop.

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  • 3 months later...

Back in the day a lot of us worked pumping gas, fixing flats, changing oil, belts, hoses etc. at real service stations. These days one would assume quick lubes would fill that gap, not so much it seems.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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