By Sheryll Poe, NADA Contributor

Move over millennials: a new generation is entering the workforce and they are increasingly attracted to careers in the automotive retail industry.

Generation Z – people born between the mid-1990s to early-2000s– are significantly interested in working for dealerships, according to Cox’s “2019 Dealership Staffing Study.”

The study, released in July, found that younger millennials and Generation Z are showing higher levels of interest in working at a dealership than other generations. Thirty-two percent of Generation Z workers and 36% of younger millennials said they were interested in dealership jobs. This interest is nearly 10 percentage points higher than interest shown by older millennials in their late 30s (21%) and Gen Xers in their 40s and 50s (19%).

An opportunity to build a new workforce

Attracting and hiring this new generation of workers could be significant for the automotive retail industry: Generation Z workers are just exiting school now and entering the workforce. By 2020, 20% of the workforce will be made up of Generation Z workers, a number that will only increase in the coming years.

“With approximately 61 million members of Gen Z starting to enter the U.S. workforce, dealerships have a chance to build a culture that attracts and retains this younger, tech-savvy talent,” the study noted.

The types of dealership jobs Generation Z workers were most interested in were fairly evenly split, with 31% of respondents saying they were interested in each of the following three positions: technician/repair, vehicle sales and administration. An additional 29% said they were interested in marketing/advertising positions. Their top reason for interest in a dealership jobs was the opportunity for good pay (40%), an exciting work environment (38%) and because they “just like cars” (34%).

“To attract and retain employees in this highly competitive job market, dealerships should understand which benefits and cultural attributes employees value most, and take action to effect positive changes within their store,” said Isabelle Helms, Cox Automotive’s vice president-research and market intelligence.

Telling the story of dealership jobs

Local dealerships provide over 1.1 million jobs in sales, service and management with payrolls topping $66.5 billion in 2018 – in fact, dealerships employ more workers than auto manufacturers operating in America. NADA’s MyDealership.org initiative promotes the benefits of all dealership jobs. Launched in 2017, MyDealership.org includes a website and social media channels and features videos of real consumers and dealership staff voicing the benefits of local dealerships in their own words.

In addition, and the NADA Foundation’s Workforce Initiative, promotes the benefits of dealership service jobs and makes it easy for interested individuals to learn about the training opportunities that are available to them locally. The online platform includes an interactive map of training and scholarship opportunities as well as video stories and Q&A interviews with working technicians like, Lance La Croix.

The 22-year-old began working in automotive sales in 2016, but always knew he wanted to be a service technician. “I had always thought about being a tech but I did not think it was a reasonable idea. I didn’t think it would pay very well and I knew tools and school would be pricey. Eventually, I decided I was going to do it anyway. I had heard from a few different people that there is plenty of money to be made as a technician, as long as I had a good work ethic.”

Today, he’s a service technician at Walser Honda in Burnsville, Minnesota and says his career is helping him pursue the lifestyle he wants. “I am glad I chose this career and I love that the learning never ends,” the Gen Z-er said. “Everyone has their good days and their bad days, but in this industry, a bad day means you had a tough project or a big obstacle to overcome. But, that means you learned something new. Is that really a bad day? Being an automotive technician is both exciting and rewarding.”

Posted by NADA

National Automobile Dealers Association