Those of us in the appliance service industry, as well as other trades, know the reality of the lack of employable technical staff. Finding hirable talent or having the ability to recruit, train & employ technicians has been a long withstanding deficit in the US labor force for many years.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the US Department of Labor (DoL), shows a very bleak outlook for the future of available jobs and salaries, for appliance service technicians. This is the consensus of BLS nationally, and, of course, this carries down to the state level as well.
Here’s what the BLS has published: The 2020 BLS statistics show that there are 153,533 Home Appliance Repairer’s employed. That averages to 3,070 per state — a figure that seems relatively low. Further, the BLS’s outlook for 2030 shows that the need for employment positions in Home Appliance Repairer will decline by 3.6%.
Do you see your staffing needs decreasing this decade?
We reached out to BLS in the fall for clarification on their outlook, and this is an excerpt of what they said in response:
“The reason we projected this downward trend for this occupation is based on the historical employment trend: it has been declining since 2008. Of course, historical data cannot be the only explanation for future trends. So, we also considered, for example, the difficulties that retail outlets such as Sears have had as their brick-and-mortar give way to on-line retailing. That shows how occupation employment is lost in related industries such as “Electronics and appliance stores.”
So, what does this mean for the future of our industry? How does BLS’s outlook impact the availability of Technicians? The Department of Education, from the top federal level down to every school district in the US, depends upon BLS occupational outlook data and the Targeted Occupational List (TOL) as they build out their curriculum. Schools will not start or maintain a training program of any kind if that program is not listed on the TOL.
That has a grave impact on the future of education and training of our technical workforce — now and for years to come. The current and future of appliance training programs stand in jeopardy of loosing significance, and we as an industry stand to lose the biggest workforce asset we have.
We know that appliance service is a critical service. In fact, during this pandemic it has been realized that we are an ‘essential’ provider to the health and wellbeing of our nation. We also know that Consumers prefer to purchase from a dealer who will support them and the product for years to come.
This is exactly why Nationwide Marketing Group is engaging with the uppermost level of the DoL and BLS that we can.
In October, we had several phone and email conversations as well as a virtual meeting with the BLS leadership, about the future of our industry. We expressed our desire to see several changes made to help modernize their data, including:
- A title change from ‘Home Appliance Repairer’ to ‘Appliance Service Technician’
- Remove title categories that do not apply to the Appliance Service Technician title/position (i.e. Vacuum Cleaner Repair Person)
- Provide the BLS relevant, accurate, statistical data that is provided by the industry
Your Involvement Matters
In the near future, SLN will be reaching out to you, our Member servicing dealers, asking you to get involved in this industry-wide endeavor. Please keep an open eye and ear for future correspondence.
Service Leaders Network is not limiting this to just Member involvement. As the SLN leadership works with the DoL/BLS, we will be reaching out across the industry to our manufacturers, trade associations, parts distributors, trade partners and every other ‘voice’ we can call upon to help influence our industry’s future.
Mark Pollitz is the director of service for Nationwide Marketing Group.