Demand for service techs even higher than previous estimates, study says

  • Mary Green
  • Nov 10, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - The demand for new service technicians is much higher than previously reported and will only increase over the next decade, according to a new report, “Transportation Technician New Entrant Demand,” from Scottsdale-based TechForce Foundation.

While that may not be much of a surprise for Dealers who can’t find qualified service techs, new estimates paint an even more sobering picture: The demand for motorcycle technicians may be more than five times higher than what the government previously estimated.

The report, based on a TechForce analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, found that demand for new-entrant vehicle technicians across all sectors – automotive, diesel, motorcycle, RV – from 2016 to 2026 is more than three times higher than what BLS previously reported. The agency has since revised its 10-year forecast:

  • BLS forecast for automotive, 2014-24: 23,700 new tech positions (average per year)

  • Revised BLS forecast for automotive, 2016-26: 75,900 new tech positions (average per year)

So, how could the government underestimate the need for service techs to such a great degree? TechForce researchers cite two key factors, one of which BLS corrected for the 2016-26 forecast:

  • BLS reports project occupational demands over a 10-year period from which an average annual amount is calculated; however, averaging the count doesn't take into consideration variations in demand from year to year.

  • BLS previously underestimated the “replacement component” of demand – in other words, the need to replace techs who have retired, been promoted or left for a different type of job. This has since been corrected.

TechForce’s analysis of technician demand calculates by year and takes into account market and economic fluctuations. The organization says demand for new techs in all sectors will bounce between a high of 92,071 positions available in 2018 to a low of 65,020 positions in 2021.

The foundation did not report hard numbers for the motorcycle/powersports market, but estimates that demand for motorcycle technicians over the next nine years could be 5.6 times what the BLS previously estimated for the sector.

Getting the numbers right at the government level is key to resolving the tech shortage, researchers say. In fact, they add that incorrect BLS estimates – and the resulting government and public unawareness - are at least partly to blame on why a shortage of techs developed and why it continues. Add to this a growing economy, a catch-up demand for techs lost during the recession and increased complexity of new vehicles, and you’ve created the “perfect storm” for a service department workforce crisis, says report co-author Greg Settle, director of national initiatives for TechForce Foundation.

“It is vital that business correlates the importance of technicians and the health of its bottom line, and as a nation that we recognize the consequences a significant workforce shortage yields, both in hurting an important sector of the economy while also leaving solid, middle-class jobs unfilled,” researchers noted.

To download a copy of the report: “Transportation Technician New Entrant Demand,” visit www.techforcefoundation.org


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