US needs 100,000 professionals in automobile retail industry
25 August 2006
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The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates there are more than 100,000 jobs available at 20,000 dealerships across the United States, chairman William Bradshaw said. While many of the positions require fluency in English and culture, opportunities for high paying jobs also exist for immigrants that don't necessarily have full native fuency.
That figure was supported by a January survey of 657 new-car dealers commissioned by McLean, Va.-based Automotive Retailing Today, a coalition of major auto manufacturers and dealers. It found that there are an estimated 105,000 openings in various positions, including sales, management, administration and service, mostly in the South and Midwest.
Bradshaw said dealerships have job openings for several reasons: sales have increased; mechanic work now requires more computer skills; financing auto loans has become an expected service; and larger dealerships open long hours seven days a week need more administrative and management employees.
Some positions, such as accounting or marketing, may require a college degree, but most, including sales and management, don't. A high school diploma, some technical training and a desire to work from the bottom up are all that are required, dealers say.
Sales jobs can bring in six figures depending on commission (the industry average for sales is $43,000 a year, according to the Dealers Association), and technicians or painters can earn between $70,000 and $100,000 a year at a busy location. Financing, accounting, marketing and other office jobs typically pay around $50,000 a year, Bradshaw said.
His 19,000-member group is expanding a program this fall in which high-school students and guidance counselors visit dealerships to learn about careers. The Cleveland association is focusing marketing and other business students at community colleges. Dealers in Texas and Florida are spending this summer scouring shopping malls in search of women to bring into the business.
Michelle Primm is the owner of a local Porsche dealership in Parma, Ohio.
"What you may have thought of as your local neighborhood car dealership is actually a huge industry," Primm says. "There are a ton of jobs: accounting, management, technical. It can be a lifelong, very rewarding career."
Primm is a member of the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association, which has launched an internship program as part of a nationwide recruiting effort for an industry overflowing with job openings.
Breaking stereotypes is a major part of the industry's effort, said Bradshaw, who owns several dealerships in South Carolina after starting as an office manager at a lot 35 years ago with no money and no experience.
"There's a stigma that we've got to break through, that mechanic stigma that it's greasy or that it's not a great career path," he said.
At the same time, high-school guidance counselors and parents focused on college have shied away from pushing students into auto careers because they wrongly think it's a career that doesn't pay well, Bradshaw said.
The earning power available at dealerships is especially noteworthy in areas like Cleveland, where high-paying factory jobs with benefits have declined over the last couple of decades, said Christopher Scott, associated dean of business, math and technology at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.
Bradshaw said that's a main selling point for the industry.
"The manufacturers are downsizing; they're laying off people, but just about every dealership in the country has job openings," he said. "These are jobs that have good benefits, good working environments and good career paths."
It should be noted that multi-lingual employees are in increasing demand in the U.S. Millions of people speak English as their second language, sometimes not very well, and many haven't mastered English at all. These millions of people still need assistance in all areas of purchasing and maintaining their cars, and they need that assistance in many languages. While Spanish is currently in greatest demand, several others, such as Russian, Hindi and dialects of Chinese are also needed.Related:
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