There Is a Shortage Of Qualified Mechanics, Why? A Look At The Numbers

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infographic why are mechanics so hard to find

Why Are Mechanics So Hard To Find?

If you ask most Maintenance Managers or Service Managers what their biggest challenge is, most will tell you it is finding good mechanics to Hire. There is a huge shortage of good technicians in the trade, and it seems to be only getting worse. 

There are a variety of reasons why we have such a shortage of mechanics but like everything, it boils down to a supply and demand issue. 

Supply is down for 3 main reasons. Firstly there are fewer people enrolling in trade schools. Across Canada enrollment in Mechanic Apprenticeships went down 6% from 2013 – 2016 and this is a continuing trend going back many years. There was a real push from High Schools in the 90’s and 2000’s to get kids ready for University and the trades seemingly got ignored.

The second reason for a drop in the number of Mechanics is due to massive numbers of people retiring. It has been estimated that across North America there are 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day. Of course, not all of these are mechanics but some of them are and they are not being replaced fast enough.

Thirdly, getting into the trade now is harder and more expensive than ever. Vehicles are more advanced and are only progressing in their technology. There was a time when a good toolset consisted of wrenches and some other hand tools but now the Average Mechanic needs to invest $50,000 in tools just to be able to perform day to day repairs. This is a huge barrier to entry for those looking to get into the trade.

The flip side to the equation, demand, is only making the problem worse. According to Statista, there are approximately 39% more vehicles (Cars, Motorcycles, Trucks, Busses and Other Vehicles) on the road now since 1990. More vehicles require more mechanics, also when you factor in that vehicles are now more complex and there are more issues that can go wrong with them that only compounds the problem.

Unfortunately, the shortage of mechanics is not likely to be going away anytime soon. As electric vehicles gain popularity this might ease the problem as there is less maintenance required of an electric vehicle but until then make sure you treat your mechanic right and do all you can to retain them. 

8 thoughts on “There Is a Shortage Of Qualified Mechanics, Why? A Look At The Numbers”

  1. tech09

    Stop the flat rate system!

    You know labor time is screwed up, it’s all based on some stupid engineers/tech working on brand new car with no rusted/seized parts and the labor time gets shorter and shorter!

    Start paying hourly (plus commission based system as efficiency gets better). Sick and tired of not making dimes during slow season when you stay shop over hours with no cars coming in. It’s really hard when you are the bread earner of family. Pay the workers stable income.

    Pay at least the same (not if higher) as other skilled trades like electrician or plumbers. Why is it that mechanics have to update their knowledge with every new model but no increase in wage. In fact our wage compares to electricians or plumbers is joke.

    Shop should supply the tools. We can not keep spending $3,000 to 5,000 on tools every year because cars get more advanced while we make less than other trades with flat rates. I have not heard other trades spend this much money on tools(their company provides them!). The compamy should supply the tools. Or they should cover half the cost.

    You all knew these days would come. But profit driven motives made all you higher ups short sighted. We technicians are the ones who physically work on cars and bring you the profits.

    Millennials know the best when they smell BS. This trade is BS and the already know it. That’s why the younger generations are not getting into this trade.

    You want workers? Then treat them right!

  2. TP

    Wages. Pure and simple. Find another career. This isn’t one that will provide you with a quality life. Find a career in new technologies. This will never provide you with anything but a destroyed, worn out body.

  3. Josue

    It is hard to find GOOD mechanics because of the flat rate system. Ive been working for a Ford dealer for 12-13 years, specially the diesel area, the dealer paid me hourly for the first 3 months and then they threw me in the flat rate world . i have seen many (MANY) mechanics (most of them young) coming and going in these 13 years , only 2 stayed and improved and now they make good money.
    1- dealers should let their young techs be hourly til they are ready for flat rate whether it takes 1 month or 1 year
    2- dealers should hire experienced and mechanical inclined service managers to help his/her crew when none of the techs can figures out the problem. I know some s managers are good with pushing buttons on the computer and picking up the phone, so afraid to get a bit of grease on their beautiful hands.
    3- if shop/dealers can’t find a good tech , make one , dont edpect him to do engine overhauls in his/her 1st week.
    4- give them training.
    5- pay your top tech when he has to to help the young tech because if you don’t your top tech will leave, remember your top tech knows he can always make more money at another dealer/shop, because he knows there is a shortage of techs.
    6- dealers, don’t give your new uncertified techs all the customer pay jobs and your certified techs all the warranty jobs because warranty labor times are not very good.
    7- if your top tech is getting old and not turning same hours when he was young, pay him hourly at a lower rate , he will love you for that , true he wont bring all the money he made when he was young but he will share his experience and tricks with the new techs, that’s very valuable.
    Etc.
    About the flat rate system, if you read and understand how to perform a pin point test and if you dont take short cuts and if you are working steady , not too fast not to slow , on the warranty repir jobs you can get close to beat the labor times, i know i know , some times you will lose , but when you love the game , and you know how to play the game (im not saying cheat or lie) and the game becomes challenging im telling you , you will be happy with your job.
    And the most important is :
    I think I’m a diesel tech, I can’t say if im good or bad at it but others say im good , who knows, i love being a diesel tech , i enjoy being a diesel tech , when i come to work i dont come to work, i come to have fun turning wrenches .
    One thing all great techs have in common is , all of them didn’t have the easy life and accommodations and fancy stuff new young techs have now.

  4. Arnold E DeMann

    another bullshit response to the real problem WAGES. It won’t change until head is removed from ass. politics is also part of the problem [non essential employees want technician wages WITHOUT MAKING THE INVESTMENT or be able to understand the magic which is ELECTRICITY.

  5. People who write this stuff never worked as technicians lol.

    Like others said. We have that investment and aren’t guaranteed any money at a lot of places. Flat rate is a joke. As a licensed mechanic in Canada I was offered better deals as an apprentice in other trades. Dealers especially are bad.

  6. Wally1

    Wow you have got to be kidding, I was a mechanic for almost 10 years before I saw the light. Dealerships are the worst, they pay sub standard wages and could care less about you. . You spend thousands, Up to 60 thousand or more for tools. I was lucky to get out and into another career, I retired with a pension at 52. If I would have continued as a mechanis, I would still be working, with a broken back and worn out. Smarten up, be a a Electrician or a Plumber, You will make much more money without destroying your body. I now have two shops for myself and it’s a fun hobby, I can make an extra 2 to 3 thousand a month just doing brakes and fluid changes as a hobby. I can work when I want to. If you work at a dealership, “Wake up”, they will screw you at every turn. .

  7. Wally1

    Wow you have got to be kidding, I was a mechanic for almost 10 years before I saw the light. Dealerships are the worst, they pay sub standard wages and could care less about you. . You spend thousands, Up to 60 thousand or more for tools. I was lucky to get out and into another career, I retired with a pension at 52. If I would have continued as a mechanic, I would still be working, with a broken back and worn out. Smarten up, be a a Electrician or a Plumber, You will make much more money without destroying your body. I now have two shops for myself and it’s a fun hobby, I can make an extra 2 to 3 thousand a month just doing brakes and fluid changes as a hobby. I can work when I want to. If you work at a dealership, “Wake up”, they will screw you at every turn. .

  8. I started in the automotive industry in 1985 in Turlock california at a body shop. In 1988 I started working at Galpin Ford in San Fernando valley california as a heavy line mechanic for $17.75 an hour. It was all flat rate warranty repairs on engines and rear axles. I managed to make my 36 to 40 hours a week and of course had full health benefits. I transferred to Vista Ford and work there for a year and then moved up to the Bay area and started at Fremont ford. Fremont Ford had a guaranteed 40 hours a week but anything more than that you got is a bonus. They had a lot of really bad mechanics and lazy people who work there so it was easy to excel and make a ton of money! When the heyday was over at Fremont ford I went to San Francisco Ford, Hayward Ford, Livermore and even Walnut creek. They were all absolutely horrible to work out with no benefits and all I received at that point was warranty work because of my training. A lot of the weaker techs. got all the customer pay brake jobs and gravy services. I just had one diesel after another under warranty to repair. I barely made any hours because Ford wasn’t very honest with their diesel repairs. It damn near put ford out of business when the 6.0 came out! A lot of people don’t realize that because Ford didn’t take any bail out money but the mechanics paid for the price on warranty claims after Ford bounced the claim after the mechanic fixed the vehicle. So now you are back flagged for all the time you had on the job and in the end you got paid zero. In 2004 I was going through a divorce and I considered going back to Galpin Ford in Los Angeles just to start over. When I called them they offered me $18 an hour! I told them over the phone I made more than that in the 1980s and now I was a senior master and Diesel certified. They said oh you can probably get 20 an hour! That’s why there’s a lack of mechanics!

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