Last fall, a robust research project involving Cox Automotive and Hireology uncovered how much personnel turnover costs dealerships as well as what characteristics stores should seek in new employees.

Now, the National Automobile Dealers Association is strengthening its efforts to help dealerships stabilize and strengthen their human resources.

On Friday, the NADA Foundation’s Board of Trustees has approved plans and funding for a largescale workforce initiative to promote the value of dealership jobs, especially service technicians, in the automotive retail industry.

The initiative — which will include a new NADA Foundation website, videos, digital and social media content, and outreach to opinion leaders — will be developed in 2018 and launched at the 2019 NADA Show in San Francisco. The Foundation will also begin fundraising for the initiative in 2019.

“Local dealerships provide more than a million good-paying jobs in sales, management and service, which benefit communities everywhere,” said NADA Foundation chairman Annette Sykora, who is the dealer principal of Smith South Plains Ford and Lincoln in Levelland, Texas, and a former NADA chairman.

“And the future of our industry is the dealership workforce,” Sykora continued. “Considering the shortages that dealerships now face, especially in recruiting, training and retaining technicians, the time is now for our Foundation to educate America on the value of these jobs to workers and local communities.”

 The NADA Foundation developed the framework for its workforce initiative over the course of 2017, after identifying the great need to harmonize efforts from automakers, training centers, and dealerships — especially on recruiting technicians.

There is currently very little brand-neutral information on training centers, according to Jonathan Collegio, NADA’s senior vice president of public affairs, whose department administers the NADA Foundation.

“What we found are a lot of competing silos that don’t appear to be talking to each other, which makes getting into a technician career unduly burdensome on potential recruits,” Collegio said. “It is incredibly difficult for someone interested in a technician career to find clear information about the benefits of a technician career, and how to gain the training and certifications necessary. We plan to provide compelling information on these good-paying careers at dealerships.”

Collegio cited competing information on training centers as a major hindrance to recruiting, as OEMs often only refer to training centers they are partnered with, while ignoring other programs. For example, on its website, one major automaker references its Baltimore and Chesapeake, Va., T-10 training centers, but ignores a major training center near Washington, D.C., because it is not associated with that automaker.

"A potential recruit in the Washington, D.C., area may therefore not know there is a training center nearby," NADA said.

There is also a lack of targeted messaging and marketing to promote the careers, which Collegio says the NADA Foundation will address in its marketing efforts.

As NADA ramps up its efforts, one of the orchestrators of the research from Cox Automotive is upbeat about dealerships’ potential workforce.

“My hope by conducting this research is we’ll be able to change people’s opinion about what it’s like to work in the automotive industry, in particular, dealerships,” said Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive, at the time the research initially was released.

“It’s an exciting new world. The world at dealerships is changing significantly. We need the next generation of workers to embrace looking at this industry differently,” Helms added.