Kids today are more likely to grow up playing video games and chatting with friends online than they are to tinker with their cars. That means the nation's auto repair workforce is getting grayer and moving toward retirement with fewer replacements being trained.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for auto mechanics will increase 17 percent by 2020, adding 124,800 jobs. The Bureau's last set of data, from 2010, shows mechanics earn an average of about $36,000, but 10 percent earned more than $59k. Numbers like that suggest that what few trained mechanics are produced every year are being snatched up as soon as they graduate.
Add in the complexities of new cars like hybrids, EVs and clean diesels, and the number of qualified applicants gets even smaller.
Many high schools have dropped auto repair programs, citing less interest and greater cost in the high-tech equipment now required. But automakers are teaming with educators to encourage interest in car repair careers, hoping to head off a looming crisis. The average age of mechanics at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler dealerships is in the low 40s, and many of the most knowledgeable will be retiring soon.
Scroll down to watch a USA Today video report on the growing conundrum.