Jobs for the Future: The Automotive Industry

With official unemployment reaching new highs and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the number of unemployed people increased by 4.1 million in the past 12 months, job security has become a priority for many families. Amid this uncertainty, the automotive industry has a variety of opportunities for those interested in a hands-on, service-oriented career.

“The automotive industry usually makes the news when it comes to manufacturing job loss. This gives the impression that good automotive jobs are few and far between. But that just isn’t the case,” says Brad Smart, transmissions instructor at WyoTech in Long Beach, Calif. “While it’s true that careers in automotive manufacturing are becoming more limited, the future is bright for skilled service technicians.”

The Department of Labor reports that service careers in the automotive industry are expected to grow at around 16 percent through 2016. The DOL estimates that approximately 110,000 new positions will be added between 2006 and 2016, with even larger demand resulting from the large number of service technicians who plan to retire.

The right training will be essential, however, and prospects are best for those who have completed a technical degree. “The automotive industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated and technological, so proper training is important. There will be high demand for those with the right training,” says Smart.

Joe Bojorquez, automotive instructor at WyoTech in Long Beach, Calif., explains why automotive service jobs continue to be in demand. “Because consumers are keeping their cars longer, demand for vehicle service and repair are on the rise,” says Bojorquez. A recent report from JD Power and Associates found that in 2008, consumers are keeping their vehicles for 71 months on average, up from 67 months in 2007, mostly for economic reasons.

“While manufacturing jobs are currently in transition — service jobs never are. That’s why a job in automotive service will be a secure career option over the next few decades,” says Bojorquez. He also explains that the service department is the largest department of any car dealership and its staff must manage both the technical problems of the car, as well as administrative and customer relations duties. With baby boomers expected to retire in record numbers, demand for employees in the service sector is expected to remain high.

Moreover, Bojorquez explains that the industry offers jobs that appeal to a wide range of interests, and options for advancement abound for those with the right training. “Jobs in automotive service range from hands-on service technicians to management positions. There are also opportunities for individuals to specialize in a specific area such as lubrication, detailing or customer service.”

One promising area of specialization for automotive service workers is in diesel engine repair and service. The Department of Labor reports that diesel engine technicians held approximately 275,000 jobs in 2006 and are expected to grow at a rate of approximately 11 percent through 2016. Usage of diesel engine vehicles is rising steadily, as more trucks and buses are used to ship freight across the country. And experts predict that the rising use of diesel engines in buses, trucks and increasingly, passenger vehicles, will fuel new jobs in the field.

Chad Enyeart, diesel/advanced diesel department coordinator at WyoTech’s Laramie, Wyo., campus explains that diesel engines have a lot of advantages over gasoline engines. “Diesel engines are more durable and economic than gasoline engines. And as diesel engines continue to improve their environmental standards, they will be used more frequently,” says Enyeart.

Another area that offers a whole new line of work in automotive sales and service is the huge growth of alternative fuel vehicles. Faced with incredible pressure to reduce dependence on gas and reduce emissions, most car producers are now on a fast track to offer electric cars and hybrids. Large car manufacturers including Ford, Toyota and GM either already have electric cars in stock, or plan to add them in the next two years.

“Alternative fuel vehicles open up a whole new area of automotive jobs. For those graduates who have had the proper training in hybrid engine maintenance, electric cars can offer great career opportunities and long-term job security,” says Enyeart.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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