There are many government agencies, industrial businesses and trade organizations talking about the shortages of skilled trades personnel. A critical skill that has been upon us for two decades, are the need for highly skilled automotive technicians. Long gone are the days of the “shade” mechanic that can use general mechanical aptitude to repair our sophisticated machines that are used for transportation.
Many secondary schools (Junior and Senior High Schools) have deleted Industrial Arts programs because of the cost of upkeep. Some metropolitan areas have formed Vocational Districts that have schools that specialize in many of the above trades, as well as venture into areas such a beginning digital design and robotics.
Although there have been advances in automating many construction jobs, there has been little acceptance in changing building codes and having these methods widespread to reduce costs. It was also a belief that there would be decreased need in the fields of: Carpentry (Woodworking), Automotive Technicians, Electricians, Welders and Drafting Design.
The existing high schools that have these programs like basic automotive repair, have teachers boast of their students being hired by dealerships. In actuality, the Department of Labor has a grant program that reimburses these businesses about $3200 and $3600 per year. Hours are adjusted to fall within reimbursement monies that results in nearly free labor.
More traditional trades require at least an approved certificate from a sanctioning trade or educational standards organization, or documented earned credentials equivalent to a two year degree (Associate Degree). Therefore, our community college system has a larger responsibility training our future trades professionals.
A critical skill that has been upon us for two decades, are the need for highly skilled automotive technicians. Long gone are the days of the “shade tree” mechanic that can use general aptitude, or trial and error, to repair our sophisticated machines that are used for transportation.
Nearly 25% of the development of a modern car or truck is electronics. Even heavy equipment has significantly increased in complexity and sophistication.
Most consumers are unaware of the different levels of training for these trades. There are beginners Class D (students), Trainees Class C, Class B (Shown Competency) technicians, and Class A (Highly Proficient with Demonstrated Troubleshooting and Critical Thinking Skills) technicians.
Higher Level of Automotive Training
With the acceleration of EV (Electric Vehicle) design and manufacturing, a higher level of proficiency is needed to address the power, control, navigation, accident avoidance and autonomy of these newer cars and trucks. Training in electronics will be needed to address troubleshooting and controller repairs. Typically this will need to be at the Associates level. Completion for an Associate Degree is approximate 38%.
It is a field the needs persons that can use computerized diagnostic equipment. A qualified technician that understands the dozens of micro-controllers in products produced over the past twenty years and how they are interactive with one another. The average car has about 30 micro-controllers with luxury models having over 150 micro-controllers.
There are many areas that a technician can be certified. Passing a test does not mean direct application of the knowledge or the ability to use appropriate troubleshooting techniques. The ACS Group would require the demonstration of the skills to be certified. ASE is one organization that requires a Associates Degree and minimum on-the-job training requirements. A non-profit training facility that has Master Certified Technicians would be the ideal setting.
Women are an integral part of the technical scene in many STEM disciplines, and automotive specialties are no exception. ACS Group believes in a definable merit system that allows women to progress and be compensated in a like fashion.
Modern automotive facilities can have $130K – $250K in diagnostic software alone, to cover the various brands. Just servicing American and Asian models, that have the most reasonable software to acquire, can have a $250K to $300K investment to open a service facility. The ACS Group needs partnerships to develop a network of affiliated shops with Class A technicians.
Program candidates must be dedicated to life-long learning, have a passion for things automotive, motivation for excellence, and a goal of being a Class A technician with a Master Class A Certification rating.
There are fewer Class A rated technicians every year and the few that are left with teaching experience is rare. This knowledge needs to be passed on. Many companies are starting to feel the legacy knowledge crunch drastically affect their operations.
Construction trades have many advocates and few doing anything about it. Once again there is legacy knowledge being lost. Our unions once had robust training programs but the public is unaware these where paid by the construction companies. With labor in short supply and profit per project the primary objective, quality has become an issue for some that are experienced in these skills.
Women are also a part of this equation. It is becoming a more regular sight to see women in equipment operations and some desiring the physical demands of framing. These are seen as compatible with a woman’s natural tactile abilities for hand-eye coordination for equipment, electrical and finishing work, notwithstanding grading and cranes.
Again, a merit based system that is skills based for promotion and compensation.
As aforementioned, many of the skilled craftsmen are leaving the trades. With the housing slump from the financial crises and slow recovery, many have aged out of normal projects and missed the opportunity for supervisors and trainers. It does not mean these highly skilled masters are to be put out to pasture.
Partnerships can seize the legacy knowledge and skill to train, improve quality and continue a line of craftsmen and craftswomen for the future. I have seen skilled women plumbers and A/C technicians. This is notwithstanding Engineers, Technicians and Scientists.
Using this experience will assure the highest standards of craftsmanship and safety are in the workforce.