Recruiting – and Retaining – Talent in the Automotive Industry

When thinking of the automotive industry, many envision the auto technicians that provide regular maintenance to consumer vehicles. However, auto technicians have a bigger impact on consumers, companies, and the economy than one might think. They service large trucks and trailers that transport food and other goods across the country. They keep municipal fleet vehicles in shape for police departments, fire departments, and first responders. They fine tune specialty cars for races from Nascar to drag racing.

Technology is transforming blue-collar workplaces and, in turn, demanding more advanced skills. However, new tools and technology can’t replace the job of a technician. The auto technician workforce reached 100,596 in 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 46,000 more automotive service technicians and mechanics will be needed to fill roles through 2026. However, with demand up, the supply of quality technicians is down. Factors for this include lack of training and challenges that accompany the job ranging from physical stress and the extreme environment that typically accompanies an automotive shop, as well as increased competition to attract techs. A shortage of technicians creates a challenge for employers in a variety of markets – including dealerships, auto shops, and collision centers.

So how do managers and auto shop owners recruit and, more importantly, retain top talent? Benefits, guaranteed hours, growth opportunities, paid training, and new equipment can certainly sweeten the deal. Perhaps even more important? Making your shop environment a place technicians WANT TO BE IN should be at the top of the list. It may seem obvious, but auto technicians spend hours at the shop, and they want to feel safe and comfortable. How can you make sure the space is inviting day-in-and-day-out and keep technicians safe?

Here are a few achievable methods to prioritize comfort and safety that may help to attract technicians to your shop.

  1. Training – Most automotive technicians have had to work in hot conditions, but they may not understand the effect extreme heat can have on the body. Train your employees to be on the lookout for warning signs of heat stress in themselves and others so they can intervene before heat exhaustion or heat stroke sets in. Provide actionable steps that are easy to follow in case of emergency.
  2. Safety Equipment and PPE – Make sure to provide quality safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to all employees. Automotive techs are surrounded by equipment that is loud and sometimes dangerous. Eye protection and hearing protection are a must. Also, ensure your technicians have access to water or an electrolyte drink and are allotted adequate rest breaks to cool down and rehydrate.
  3. Additional Cooling – The traditional setup of an automotive shop is a large open structure with open bay doors and little to no air conditioning. In order to combat the inevitable heat, consider investing in portable evaporative coolers. These coolers work with water, ambient air, and minimal electricity to provide cooling where traditional A/C is impractical. And they’re available in a range of sizes that can be used to spot cool employees in particularly hot areas or provide cooling relief to the whole shop.

In addition to keeping technicians safe, prioritizing safety can also make technicians more productive. Without the distraction of extreme heat and a cluttered environment, technicians can focus on the task at hand. Happy and productive technicians are essential to move the business forward. Check out the full lineup of Portacool portable evaporative coolers to find the best solution for your shop.