You get what you give.
Every so often you hear one of these wise old sayings about life, but to me, the one above is proven to be true every day.
To me, it means that the more effort you put into life, the more you’ll get out of it. “You reap what you sow” probably means close to the same thing, although I think it hints at a more longer term return than perhaps “you get what you give.” All I know is that from my 37 years of life experience (which you may not think is all that much, depending how old you are), I’ve never seen any evidence to refute those sayings. In fact, I know many people who complain about what they don’t have or how bad off they are, but the reality is that they’ve gotten exactly what I know they’ve given in life. You can’t exactly say that to some people, though, without ruffling some feathers.
Today, however, I’m going to use “you get what you give” as a perfect statement about the state of the labor force in the collision repair industry. I think many of us realize that the technician shortage in our industry, like many of our other problems, is really up to us to fix. No one’s going to help us, but I think we’d really have it no other way.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 60 million workers in the United States will retire over the next 30 years. By 2014, the U.S. will need a projected 18,927,569 new workers.
We also know that collision repair is still looked at as an undesirable career, moreso now than ever before. A college grad today wants to tap a few keys on a keyboard in a shiny building in the big city for mega bucks rather than do physical labor in a dirty body shop. That’s the reality of the situation, even though we know the shop environment is getting healthier, good money can be made and the skills of a trained technician will continue to be in large demand as long as we don’t have driverless cars that don’t get in accidents.
So what have you done to support your local vo-tech school or attract young people to a career in collision repair? Remember, you get what you give. Have you ever made a donation to the school? Have you volunteered to teach a class there or sit on its advisory board? Have you ever held an open house at your shop for prospective young technicians and their parents? Have you ever instituted an apprenticeship program at your shop, making it your own personal employee-making factory? If your answer is no to all of these questions, then I’m sorry, but you have no right to complain about the sorry state of our industry’s workforce. My guess is that those who have given the least are the ones who complain the loudest.
Check out the smile on the young tech’s face in the photo to the right. When Mark Claypool submitted this photo with his article this month on recruiting and training (pg. 28), I couldn’t help but ask myself what could be more rewarding than seeing a smile like that on a young apprentice that you’ve helped start a career?
Take that smile with you as we head into 2009. Things are going to get worse before they get better, but if you can glean even just a smidge of inspiration from all that toothy happiness, then perhaps you too can get started on doing your part to develop young, hungry techs. Remember, you get what you give, so let’s make 2009 a year of giving.
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