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Date: Feature Week of February 22, 2004
Topic: Black Press Business/Economic
Author: William Reed
Article ID: article_ema022204



African Americans are hit especially hard by the depressed job market.  Nine million Americans are jobless, struggling to find work.  The unemployment rates for African Americans (11.8 percent) are more than double rates for whites (5.5 percent).  Among young African Americans, jobless rates fall in the 20 - 30 percent range.

 One American industry that is driving ahead to help close skills gaps and open doors of opportunity for African American young people is America’s automotive sales network.   The National Automobile Dealers Association, which represents more than 49,300 new car and truck dealer franchises, is giving a broad range of American workers access to jobs and training that will allow them high wages and lifetime careers.

 Auto dealers have put out “Help Wanted” signs seeking to plug significant labor shortages in the industry.  Dealers coast-to-coast have mounted a major effort to attract people with potential to be employed in automotive-related jobs that are available now.  Young African American men and women are encouraged to apply.

 “These are rewarding, high-paying jobs,” says the head of Automotive Retailing Today (ART), a group representing auto manufacturers and franchise dealers in the employee hunt.  Addressing the nationwide shortage of auto service technicians, the chairman of ART, James Willingham, says that auto dealers “are not just looking for a few good men…and women.  There are tens of thousands of unfilled career positions available right now.”  ART officials point out www.autojobstoday.org as a website for extensive career and training information regarding automotive technician opportunities.

 Automotive technicians are in high demand throughout the US but there is a lack of trained professionals to meet this demand.  The majority of automotive technicians are employed by automotive dealers and the Service Department is one of the most important profit centers in a dealership.   A Service Technician's job is more skilled and challenging than ever before.  All current automobiles are equipped with sophisticated computer-controlled devices which require highly technical skills. Technician employment is expected to increase because of the expanding driving-age population, consumer purchasing power and multi-car ownerships.

 Pay and demand for these positions are high, which translates into high job security, opportunities for mobility and great benefits, including comfortable, modern working environments, health insurance and retirement plan options.  A majority of auto dealers say they need to hire at least one new technician in the next six months; the average number of new technicians needed is 2.1 per dealer. The study shows the shortage at 35,000 per year through 2010.

With millions of manufacturing and white-collar jobs exiting America, young African Americans may want to use their hands and heads in this expanding employment sector.  Willingham says, “It’s an employee’s market in my industry.  A key focus of the current presidential election cycle is on the urgent need to create more jobs that pay a living wage.  Well, we’ve got them—lots of them.  Now, we need qualified people to fill them”.

Career seekers interested in understanding the auto technician training requirements and career path can review information online at www.autojobstoday.org.  The site includes information about careers, salaries and available training, and serves as a clearinghouse for the auto dealers’ service technician career program information.  Job seekers can search for automotive training programs in their own state.  Military veterans, parents, educators, students and self-help organizations can enter the site through customized portal pages that feature shortcuts to information tailored to their backgrounds and interests.  The autojobstoday.org site also links to job sources, including state and local dealer associations, auto manufacturers, and military and Department of Labor job banks.   


© 2000-2003 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com


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