A Pipeline of Employees for the Future

SEMA News—February 2016

A Pipeline of Employees for the Future


  Chris Kersting

Member businesses tell us that finding qualified prospects to fill jobs is among their toughest challenges. Our members are seeking the next generation of workers—the people who will bring the kind of skills, energy and ideas that every business needs to grow and prosper.

Part of the challenge of developing a good pipeline of qualified job applicants is knowing what kinds of jobs need to be filled and therefore what sort of training and skills are required. SEMA recently undertook an employment-needs survey among our membership. We’re pleased to report that 750 SEMA-member businesses took part. The results are in and now being reviewed.

Early analysis indicates that member needs are broad, covering everything from sales training to automotive technical skills. We think that this member feedback can be combined with other input to help the association bring qualified applicants to our members—applicants who will meet the range and variety of member needs in building their businesses. And we’ll be able to work with the educational community to provide awareness and guidance so that students know about and can prepare for a future in
this industry.

The coming year will see steady growth in programs designed to help SEMA members connect with the most qualified employees possible. For example, our Career Paths initiative is well under way. The program will include an enhanced job board on the SEMA website, an industry internship program and website, recruitment consulting and career guidance.

One important element will be to partner with key educators at the high-school level to incubate new automotive schools for the purpose of increasing the base of next-generation employees. The plan is to partner with schools to help build curricula that will prepare students to pursue careers in our industry. And we are exploring motorsports-based programs such as High School Drags and Beat the Heat to introduce students to racing and industry career paths. You’ll be seeing more about these and other initiatives as the year rolls forward.

Already in place are SEMA programs aimed at educating promising employees currently in the industry and encouraging young people still in school to adopt a career path that skews toward the specialty automotive sector. At this year’s SEMA Show, we delivered significant advances on both fronts.

The Student Program at the SEMA Show exceeded our goals for 2015. The program offers qualified and motivated students an opportunity to experience the incredible diversity of business opportunities on display at the SEMA Show. The idea is to plant a seed so that the students can understand how exciting the specialty automotive field can be and prepare them via their field of study.

By attending career path seminars and networking events, the students—and their attending faculty mentors—also gained information about potential careers and began to establish a network of industry contacts and future employers. This year, we were able to bring in more than 600 students and faculty from 64 schools.

Meanwhile, participation in the industry Education Days sessions increased by 42% over the prior year, with nearly 7,000 industry attendees taking part. The sessions are largely designed to provide young professionals with a chance to build knowledge and acquire useful perspectives that they can apply in the workplace.

Eighteen tracks were offered at the Show, making up a total of 64 sessions. The sessions focused on a range of topics, including automotive electronics, customer service and sales, business technology, and social-media marketing. Overall satisfaction ratings were high, averaging 4.5 on a 5-point scale.

Solving the challenge of providing the automotive specialty parts industry with exactly the right kind of qualified employees won’t happen overnight. But by providing opportunities to learn and by creating a clear and more encouraging pathway to access careers in our industry, we are positioning ourselves to make a difference.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet