27 driving changes and the auto industry with it, many technicians feel unappreciated and jaded, persuading them to migrate to other fields where they can receive steadier compensation for their work. And as baby boomers retire and Gen Xers burn out, dealerships and shops are tasked with appealing to a new-age millennial workforce that has been raised to believe every single negative stigma about trade work. “The best way to sell a truck is to talk about how lousy a competitor is ... The best way to really promote college hard, is to talk about how subordinate all the other opportunities are,” said Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame in an interview with Reason TV. A longtime proponent of the trades, Rowe asserts that in an effort to push higher education, schools have constructedanarrative that students must aspire to “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” a dangerous PR campaign, in his opinion. According to NPR, “As politicians debateamassiveoverhaul of thenation’s roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68%more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.” Despite those same politicians sounding the alarms about trade job deficiencies and proposing multi-million-dollar projects to improve technical programs, the interest still remains low. Convincing young people (and their parents) that trade work is not only financially rewarding but also self-fulfilling, continues to be a struggle. However, as student loan debt continues to balloon in this country (last clocked at a walloping $1.5 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data), it is inevitable that young millennials and Gen Zers will begin to see the bright and lucrative light at the end of the tunnel. Looking Inward to Move Forward But what about automotive technicians? A widespread shortage of all tradesmen undoubtedly factors into current industry woes, but that doesn’t address the elephant in the room—the shortcomings of the industry itself. A 2016 nationwide survey by Carlisle Research reported that “only 15% of technicians are likely to recommend their job as a career choice,” and nearly a quarter of them leave their dealerships each year. That’s a lot of dissatisfied workers, citing “total compensation,” “pay plans,” “dealer management issues,” and “feeling undervalued” as their top reasons for seeking other employment. “I worked as a technician for nearly 10 years, with some time spent at the dealership and the rest with independent shops,” said a former technician who prefers not to be named. “After my wife and I got married, I decided that flat-rate wasn’t the way I wanted to earn a living. I felt like in order to be able to afford to have a family, I would need to work so many hours that I wouldn’t be able to actually see my family,” he continued. Tech Shortage Problem: ng & Holding onto the Best of the Best