The auto glass industry is no stranger to workforce shortages. Like many blue-collar trades, the industry struggles to find willing workers.
As with the construction industry, which has monthly worker shortages of around 300,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, auto glass shops experience firsthand the difficulties of hiring and retaining employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor designated November 13 to 19 as National Apprenticeship Week. This year’s theme, “Registered Apprenticeship: Superhighway to Good Jobs,” underscores the significance of apprenticeship programs as a proven and industry-driven model that paves the way to rewarding careers.
Like many small businesses, “a glass” in Florence, S.C., finds its ability to meet customer demand stifled by a lack of qualified technicians. Company owner Stan Turner says one of the most significant challenges the company faces is finding the right people.
What’s he looking for in a job applicant?
“In today’s market, I look for someone who’s breathing and upright,” he says.
The lack of potential employees hampers the auto glass company’s ability to meet customer demand and spreads the company’s resources pretty thin.
“Just this past summer, we were two techs short in Florence and one short in Sumter,” Turner says. “We were booked out a week and a half.”
The company doesn’t offer an apprenticeship program but instead works with local trade schools and community colleges with automotive repair and body shop courses. Turner asks the auto shop teachers if they have any junior or senior students to recommend. He’ll hire the student for the summer.
“We let them ride on the vehicle, and by the end of summer, they’ll know if they want to do the work or not, and we’ll know if we want them as an employee,” Turner says.
Turner prefers to train new employees himself rather than hire ones who learned the trade at another auto glass shop. “It’s a whole lot easier to train a person to do it the way you want to do it, to do it right, than it is to hire somebody with bad habits and retrain them,” he says.