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How to Develop Talent in Your Auto Shop

Posted by Kimball Midwest on July 26, 2019

Tags: Safety, Training, Automotive, Employee Engagement

Is employee recruiting and retention an issue in your auto shop? It might be a challenge to find and keep good technicians, but giving them continuing education, training and development opportunities is as beneficial for you as it is for them.

There were about 750,000 automotive service technicians in the United States in 2016, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is expected to grow to nearly 800,000 by 2026.

That growth will only make the current difficulty in finding reliable, qualified shop employees even harder in the coming years. The inability to recruit and retain shop employees already is creating challenges, including lost revenue around the country, and has been reported on by outlets including The New York Times and Automotive News.

One of the best ways to keep staffing levels where they need to be is retaining existing employees. With technician turnover sometimes exceeding 20 percent annually, anything you can do to keep people from leaving is critical.

Across industries, effective talent development is seen as a great way to show your team that you value them. It also solidifies workers’ skill sets and equips them to get the job done more effectively now and in the future.

An entry-level shop position usually requires either an associate degree, other equivalent training program and/or extensive on-the-job training. Once an employee in on board, development and training should be ongoing.

You will retain your best employees longer when they have a clear map of how they can grow their skills and what effects that growth will have on their day-to-day responsibilities, title and income. Empower your team to strive for meaningful careers that challenge and excite them. Our friends over at Zippia have put together a thorough resource guide on mechanic jobs and careers paths. Check them out here.

Mechanic Career Paths
Graphic courtesy of Zippia, 2019

One of the best-known certification programs for automotive professionals is the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certification is offered using more than 40 exams covering areas such as automobile, medium/heavy truck, school bus and collision repair. Although no specific training is required for ASE certification, passing the exams to obtain certification indicates a level of expertise in that area. Many providers offer training to help technicians make sure they’re prepared for ASE tests.

Another prominent provider of online courses and certifications is the Automotive Management Institute. AMI offers more than 200 courses that lead to a variety of certifications in collision repair, service repair, customer service and more.

Many manufacturers, dealerships and others in the automotive industry offer various training opportunities, as well. Many of them are designed to train new technicians, but some are aimed at those with some experience.
Technical schools and community colleges usually offer automotive programs, many of which provide opportunities that might be appropriate for professional development.

A lot of public and school libraries have significant automotive resources available, and some of these can be useful for professional development. In addition to books, libraries frequently will have relevant magazine subscriptions and access to materials such as Chilton auto repair manuals. Some libraries also offer access to online resources including the Chilton manuals. Offering an employee time to pursue these materials is a simple, low-cost idea for development.

Finally, as in any industry, employees will appreciate the opportunity to attend professional conferences and events, whether they’re local or national in scope. Some professional organizations that offer individual or shop memberships also offer related education and networking opportunities. Examples include the International Automotive Technicians Network and the Automotive Maintenance Repair Association.

Every shop and every employee are different, but a mix of these options, along with in-house training and mentorship, can combine to provide strong professional development opportunities for your team, boosting morale and retention and helping your bottom line.

One example of internal training you might consider is a safety seminar. Kimball Midwest offers eight safety seminar options to customers: fasteners, cutting tools, welding, abrasives, chemicals, electrical, hydraulics and fleet air brake. Book a Seminar
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