US Survey Reveals 25 Per Cent Of Technicians May Leave Their Employer Within Two Years

A new US survey shows technician dissatisfaction with training, benefits and career opportunities are hurting the industry’s ability to recruit and retain skilled labour.

According to the survey, collision repair technicians expressed higher satisfaction levels than other automotive technicians, but 25 per cent are considering leaving their current roles within the next two years. Fifteen per cent of respondents reported dissatisfaction with benefits offered, while almost half expressed dissatisfaction, neutrality, or a lack of awareness about career progression opportunities available to them.

The research also shows that technical training plays a vital role in job satisfaction.

Conducted in 2023, the survey involved more than 800 collision repair technicians. The project was started by I-CAR in collaboration with the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), which engaged global consulting firm Ducker Carlisle to obtain technicians’ opinions on compensation, culture and career opportunities.

I-CAR said Ducker Carlisle’s experience in automotive and its history of surveying, analysing and benchmarking the perspective of diesel and mechanical technicians was instrumental in helping the collision repair industry understand recruitment and retention challenges. The survey also allowed a basis for comparison between those two automotive service sectors, which often compete with the collision repair industry for technicians.

“The white paper’s groundbreaking results shed light on critical areas that need attention within our industry,” said Dara Goroff, Vice President of Planning and Industry Talent Programming at I-CAR. “We’re already starting to provide solutions that address the issues contributing to attrition with the goal of enhancing technician satisfaction to help the industry attract, engage, educate and retain the top talent that will foster the industry’s sustainability, growth and success.”

Aaron Schulenberg, Executive Director at SCRS, said the annual turnover rate of 30 to 40 per cent among technicians underscores the challenges the industry faces. “In light of the pressing technician retention crisis, understanding the sentiments and career outlook of our skilled technicians has become a paramount concern for the industry’s sustained success.”

Highlights of the survey include:

Overall satisfaction: Collision repair technicians express higher satisfaction levels compared to their dealer service technician counterparts, based on previous Ducker Carlisle surveys. However, there is room for improvement, as more than a quarter of collision repair technicians are unsatisfied and considering leaving their current roles within the next two years.

Compensation and pay plan: Collision repair technicians have a high earning potential over the course of their careers, with many experienced personnel earning more than US$100,000 a year. Entry level technician compensation is another area of opportunity to improve satisfaction. Shops that pay a flat rate have significantly lower employee satisfaction than shops using other compensation models.

Benefit offerings: Benefit offerings in the industry can vary widely based on the type of shop. When shops lack benefits, as 15 per cent of survey respondents reported, whether due to non-offering or lack of awareness of availability, it poses a challenge in attracting and retaining technicians.

Career outlook and progression: Technician satisfaction with career advancement opportunities is inconsistent, with nearly half expressing dissatisfaction or neutrality, or a lack of awareness about the opportunities available to them. Clear paths for career growth and continuous learning – and frequent communication about them – are essential to enhance overall job satisfaction and retention.

Technical training: Adequate training opportunities are crucial for technician satisfaction and long-term success. Collision repair technicians, on average, lack satisfaction with their technical training. Improved and more consistent implementation of training offerings are critical for attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce.

New technology: Collision repair technicians are generally excited about the opportunity to work on emerging vehicle technologies, with more than half expressing enthusiasm. This contrasts with dealer service technicians, indicating a potential recruiting advantage for collision shops.

The full report can be viewed on I-CAR’s website.