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One thing I see different with young techs today from years back is the lack of hands-on experience. In my era, mechanics got their start pumping gas, working with their father on the family car and helping friends. By the time you landed a job in a garage, you had the basics under your belt.


I am firm believer in hiring entry level techs, always have been. I contact the trade schools; Lincoln Technical, Universal Technical Institute, etc. I have to tell you, the last few years have been a bit discouraging.


When I look at their resumes I am shocked that they never worked in a repair shop. Oh, they have worked as a camp counselor, at the local deli, at Rite Aid and Apple Bees. But no hands on mechanical work? Some of them never worked on car other than what was required at school.


These schools are pumping out techs by the thousands. Are they all like this, and where are they too?


Our future is dependent on a strong entry level workforce. I think we need to rethink the process. I also think that trade schools should adopt a concept similar to the medical field. Nurses and doctors must go thru mandatory work at hospitals while still in school and then go thru internship programs. You would never put a doctor in an operating room, fresh out of Med School with no hands-on experience. Would you?


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I believe we need to rethink the route entry level techs are expected to be on. If you're a very large operation a trade school tech can be brought up through the ranks by having plenty of meaningful repair tasks. Training, mentoring and experience will advance a bright and eager apprentice tech. A lot of Indy shops end up being the school and mentor at quite a great cost over the first couple of years. Economy of scale is against them. A small be all do all shop is really at a disadvantage. Perhaps an industry wide grass roots apprentice type program could be developed.

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I don't have the entire answer, but the fact remains that for the most part we need young people to enter into the workforce and remain there. I believe it is the responsibility of the present-day shop owners to do whatever they can in their communities to help create a pathway for these young people. I know many of them cannot hire just anyone, but perhaps a shadow program or some type of internship? Everyone where I go and everyone I speak to continues to complain about the lack of quality techs, we need to do more than just complain.

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Wow Jeff,


I'm in the last stages of opening up my own shop and your experience has me wondering if this has been the experience of most techs? I've done my research and it seems your experience is not typical. Anyone chime in.

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I don't understand how those tech schools can qualify their students as "graduates" if they have very little hands on experience.

Training apprentices is one area that Canada actually does very well in.


You become an apprentice (and can have zero skills), then you need 1500 hours per year for 4 years of hands on experience, plus each year you go to 2 months of technical training.

Each year, you earn a minimum percentage of your shop's journeyman pay rate (55% for 1st year, then 70%, 80%, 90% in the 4th year)

Once you finish your 4 years, you become a journeyman technician, which I would correspond to a step or two below an ASE master tech.


We don't have a master tech program up here, you just become a better journeyman technician with more experience.

I'd honestly like to see Canada do a master program for techs with maybe 10 years of experience.


As you can see though, the real key is the 1500 hours per year of hands on training.

I don't know how you could expect someone with very little hands on training to be certified by a tech school like UTI etc.

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There are some standards being promoted by AYES - https://www.ayes.org/Home.aspx

ASE is also promoting a maintenance and light repair certification with its G1 test. This allows young techs to be profitable for shops to employ as they gain experience in the trade by being able to perform these services. As shop owners we will have to invest in these young kids getting into the trade, it's a cost of doing business.



You can continue to complain about the lack of talent coming into the trade or you can get involved in the local training programs to help mold some of the young kids getting into the trade. We also need to realistically look at compensation for all techs and make sure we are charging for the talent needed to repair todays vehicles.

Edited by Tires Too
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My problem was I worked at Dealers mostly until I opened my own shop. From 93-04 I worked for Chrysler dealers. I had the mindset the more I learned the more I could make. The problems started when I got to the Chrysler "Gold" level. When you are the best trained tech in the shop you 1) get all the problem cars no one else could do 2) My morals would not allow me to plunder the customers 3) I would work on the problem cars...upsell the easy work and have it shipped off to the next tech so I could deal with the next problem car. I finally got fed up and opened my own place..in 2004. 2005 we got tore up with hurricanes...folks houses tore up, no money to fix car. About the time we started gettin over that the "recession" hit. This area is still tryin to get over that. My locale still leads the country in foreclosures. Then on top of all that I have 4-5 unlicensed "repair" shops within a stones throw that work for 20-30 an hour and sell parts at cost or have the customers supply their parts. Like I said if I had known I would stayed in that old Freightliner I was herdin down down the road!

As far as typical...I have more friends that have quit this trade than I know have joined! One fella got into real estate, another cashed out everything and took early retirement, another got a 9-5 working in a machine shop. I am just waiting for Mcdonalds to start payin 15 an hour! :wacko:



Wow sounds terrible Jeff! I think your more of a product of your area unfortunately. For the kind of pay you were receiving I should have probably shipped you up here to work for me!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      Have I got your attention? Great.
      Let me start by saying that I believe in giving praise when deserved and letting employees know when they dropped the ball. However, the truth is that no one enjoys being reprimanded or told they messed up.  
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