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IMR Releases Study on the American Perception of Trade Jobs

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IMR has released its latest insights regarding the perception of the trades as a career path within U.S. households. This study surveyed 25,000 nationally representative households during the first quarter of each year since 2020.

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Thirty-nine percent of households surveyed fully agree that there are unfilled positions in the automotive service industry, providing high job security for automotive technicians. Men who know someone in the trades are even more likely to agree than others.

Of the households discussing career options with a child, 45.5% said they were discussing a four-year college degree as an option and 45.6% of those having that conversation were recommending the four-year college degree option to their child. However, when asked what option their child was most seriously considering, 33.5% said a four-year college degree while 33.8% said entering the workforce immediately. When asked if their child intended to pursue a job in the trades were they to enter the workforce immediately, 84.5% said yes.

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Overall, 42.6% of households surveyed said they would be extremely likely to recommend the trades as a career path if their child or a family member were considering it. This number is up from 2020 when only 39% said they would make that recommendation. Households with a family member or friend working in the trades were more likely to recommend that career path option to their child at 64.6%. If the household did not have a family member or friend working in the trades, only 38.5% of those surveyed would make the recommendation.

Amongst all households surveyed – whether discussing career options with a child or not – the top three trades recommended were electrician, HVAC installation/repair and aircraft maintenance/repair. Automotive technician was ranked as the fifth most common response. However, if the household was discussing career options with a child, automotive technician ranked third.

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Rural households (61.6%) and urban households (52.2%) are more likely to recommend the trades than those households in the suburbs (41.6%). Regardless of household location, there is some recognition of the cost differential between automotive technician training and traditional college education. 41% fully agree that the cost of completing the required education to become an automotive technician is significantly less than the cost of a traditional college education. Awareness of this gap is greater amongst males, higher earners and those with more educational experience.

While shops reported that the most important trait they look for in a technician is being analytical and a problem solver, less than half of households surveyed (47%) fully agree that STEM skills are needed to become an automotive technician.

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When asked about how automotive technicians are portrayed, more than a third of household respondents believe technicians are often portrayed negatively. 17% of respondents believe being an automotive technician is a job, not a career, while 44% disagree with the statement. 42% of households fully agree that income-earning opportunities for automotive technicians can be equal to or greater than other careers that require a four-year college degree, with younger generations more likely to agree with this statement than older generations.

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