Shortage of Auto Mechanics Has Dealerships Taking Action
By NORMAN MAYERSOHN APRIL 27, 2017
Photo (did not print)
BMW’s technician training center in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. The shortage of technicians is so acute that BMW began its own recruiting program.
Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times
If the sticker shock faced by car shoppers in the showroom isn’t enough to provoke a cardiac episode, a visit to the dealership’s service department might do the job. That’s where a tire-kicking customer is likely to spot the sign announcing labor charges upward of $125 an hour, a rate typical in cities and at the low end for luxury brands.
Besides chest pains, the number might also elicit a gasp of realization: “That’s way more than I earn.”
It’s true that a mechanic wielding wrenches is not paid that hourly rate — the shop’s cash flow must cover sophisticated diagnostic tools and contribute its share toward the dealership’s prime real estate. But top-level technicians in the field can earn $100,000 a year after achieving master mechanic status and five years of experience, said Robert Paganini, president of the Mahwah, N.J., campus of Lincoln Technical Institute.
So, it would be logical to conclude, applicants must be banging on dealership doors for those jobs.
Not quite: It’s the dealerships and auto manufacturers banging on doors, eagerly seeking out candidates at job fairs, trade schools and events for veterans. The shortage of qualified technicians is so acute that a year ago, BMW of North America began its own recruiting program, making its pitch to students at postsecondary technical schools and career fairs. While that may be a common practice for multinational corporations, it’s unusual in that the job openings will be at independently owned BMW franchises.
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