Last week, we hosted our first ever WrenchWay Roundtable event. This was a free virtual event where we brought in a diverse group of five panelists together to discuss how shops and schools can work together to get more students entering the industry.

Our panelists included:

  • Steve Hamre, National Technician Recruiting Manager, Lithia Motors, Inc.
  • George Arrants, Vice President, ASE Education Foundation
  • Ben Zimmerman, Technology Education Teacher, Verona Area High School
  • Dustin Doyle, Service Technician, Truck Country
  • Noah Wainwright, Student, Des Moines Area Community College

The full recording is well worth the time to watch. However, we have included a few highlights below.

Highlights from the January WrenchWay Roundtable Recording

1. There are still a lot of misconceptions about the industry amongst parents of high school students that are fueling the technician shortage.

One dated misconception about the industry is that the students who are interested in and go into technician programs are lower achieving students who don’t have the option to go to a four year college.

Ben Zimmerman, Technical Education Teacher at Verona Area High School offered great insight as to how youth apprenticeship programs can start to break down some of these misconceptions parents have about the industry:

2. Young technicians coming into the industry are looking for an employer who offers a clear career path for growth and development.

A big question shop owners/managers and those in charge of recruiting technicians have is, what are young technicians looking for in an employer? Salary? Time off? Work-life balance?

Noah Wainwright, who is currently enrolled in the technician program at Des Moines Area Community College, gave some great insight into the number one thing he’ll be looking for in an employer after he graduates:


Dustin Doyle, who has been a technician in the industry for almost three years, also shares what he looks for in an employer:

3. Both schools and shops need to manage expectations around entry-level technician production capability and earnings.

The issue with expectations amongst shop owners/managers and technicians is two-fold:

  • Students are presented with technician earning potential, and assume they will be making those earnings at an entry-level.
  • Shops expect high productivity and knowledge from entry-level technicians who are right out of school.

In order to manage expectations, George Arrants, Vice President of ASE Education Foundation, says we need to focus on measurable outcomes:


Steve Hamre, National Technician Recruiting Manager at Lithia Motors, takes this one step further suggesting a clear career path will help manage expectations on all sides, and explains how they grow technicians at Lithia Motors:

4. We are chasing away our future technicians within their first two years on the job.

A survey conducted by ASE found that 42% of technicians are leaving the industry within the first two years of work. What’s more – 18% of those go onto other technical trades.

George Arrants suggests we, as an industry, do the best job at “eating our young”:

5. WrenchWay School Connect offers a new, easy way for schools and industry to connect and work together.

At the end of the roundtable, Mark Wilson, CEO of WrenchWay, gave a sneak peek at the new WrenchWay School Connect tool. This tool gives schools a free way to connect with local shops and dealerships, and get the resources they need to attract students to technician programs and educate them about the industry. Mark explains the background of why WrenchWay created this tool and how it can be used:


Anyone interested in learning more and signing up for WrenchWay School Connect, can do so on the WrenchWay website.

Watch the Full WrenchWay Roundtable Recording

Those were just a few of the highlights from this roundtable. The entire conversation was so valuable, and the audience was so engaged. I highly recommend watching the full recording on WrenchWay’s YouTube channel.


WrenchWay School Connect