Modern Tire Dealer

FEB 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 9 24 F i n d i n g T e c h n i c i a n s a career ladder, we have a career lattice. You can go in so many different directions. And if you love turning wrenches, you can make a good career of that." e problem is, the general public doesn't know any of that. 4. Changes in the classroom. As the college-for-all mentality set in, schools focused on college-prep and the basics needed for white-collar jobs, and the shop classes of old have been replaced by computer labs. "ere's no focus on getting men and women into the skilled trades, and there's no focus on getting teachers for those skilled trades. ere's nobody in the wings quali- fied to take over. If you have a class where the instructor retires, no one thinks it's important. at's what happened thousands and thousands of times across the country." 5. A chance to experiment. For students who are hands-on learners, there's power in learning how to dismantle and then successfully reassemble something. "at's an amazing feeling of accomplish- ment, and there are a lot of people who learn best that way." But with no exposure to automotive, there's no opportunity for students to learn they have a natural inclina- tion toward the work. "at's a huge loss for getting kids interested." e entire industry has to focus on right- ing the wrongs, but Settle says when it comes to school, focusing on high school students won't fix the problem. "We have to start much younger if we're going to get kids interested," he says. "We find that kids are thinking of careers in eighth and ninth grade, and locking it in by 10 th grade. If we don't expose kids to automotive by sixth grade, then the opportunity is lost." THE NEED e Tech Force Foundation serves as the home base for all efforts related to devel- oping the next generation of technicians. It is working to bring together partners in industry and education with potential students to create a unified effort to address the talent shortage. As part of that, the foundation compiles and analyzes data to track the shortage. Its latest report shows the shortage not only exists, but also is getting worse. Technician demand is on the rise, while the potential supply of workers graduating from post- secondary institutions is decreasing. Not every technician enters the workforce from a post-secondary school, of course, but the decline in completions is worsening the existing shortage. For this article, technicians are those performing undercar and underhood service, the work performed in typical U.S. tire dealerships, as well as new car dealerships and other businesses that provide automotive services. It doesn't include those doing body and collision work, or diesel mechanics. It also doesn't include tire changers. e Great Recession had a huge impact on the talent shortage, and according to the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry still hasn't The one thing every tire dealer must do In building a pipeline for local technicians, Greg Settle says there's one place every tire dealer should go: back to high school. "The biggest thing is relationships with your local high schools. Meet the high school shop instructor. See if you can serve on their advisory council. Get in- volved with them." Settle says the classroom might need a tire machine, and a dealer might have an older one to donate after upgrad- ing to a newer model. "Get to know the instructor. Show them the opportunities at your business." That one relationship can make a dif- ference. Plus, it shouldn't be that much of a stretch since tire dealers often are already connected to their local schools, supporting fundraisers and sponsoring sports teams and other school activities. Settle says it won't take much for the instructor to start talking about your busi- ness, exposing students to you. "Homegrown is the easiest, the best way to get kids in. Maybe you could set up an apprenticeship program or a mentoring program. There are so many advantages to connecting to your local school." 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 763,700 723,400 701,100 739,900 749,900 Historical employment data SOURCE: BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS AND TECH FORCE FOUNDATION NOTE: 2018 DATA HAS YET TO BE RELEASED. Automotive technicians Maliyah Ramsey is a high school junior in Akron, Ohio, studying automotive tech- nology at East Community Learning Center. Akron Public Schools is creating specific career-minded academies at each of its high schools, and it's received a boost from Bridgestone Americas Inc. The tire maker sponsors the Bridgestone Academy of Ap- plied Engineering and Technology, which includes an automotive curriculum, as well as electrical engineering, interactive media and welding classes.

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