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New professional figures wanted

In the next few years the market will need about 5 thousand mechanics. According to Franco Fenoglio, UNRAE president, "We need a cultural change in the public’s opinion towards this figure".

Emiliano Costa

Auto mechanics wanted. UNRAE, the national union representing foreign motor vehicles dealers, expects a decline of about 5000 auto mechanics in Italy. A serious concern if one considers the vital role these specialists will play in the future of the automotive sector. The reason, according to the association, for such a negative trend is twofold: on the one hand a lack of professional qualification - new vehicles are fast becoming real technological hubs - and on the other a poor general perception of mechanics as professional figures. Aiming to overcome these two obstacles, UNRAE, under the patronage of GmEdu, during the Autopromotec 2019 exhibition met with several young people to analyse and stimulate their interest in working in the field by focusing mainly on technical assistance to vehicles. During the meeting, UNRAE representatives explained how technological innovations are changing the profession. Their aim was to illustrate not only how an otherwise traditional job is moving towards a qualitative leap, but also to show all potential interested parties the opportunity to carry out a satisfying and well-paid profession: a choice that offers not only a job opportunity after  leaving school, but also lifelong career within multinational companies. "Considering the success of the event - explained Franco Fenoglio, president of the industrial vehicles section of UNRAE – we have to keep striking while the iron is hot, promoting a much needed change in the cultural approach that the public has towards the profession, which today should more correctly be defined as "technician specialized in mechatronics" or, with a very significant neologism, "mechatronics". The UNRAE event was not just a lot of theoretical notions. The presence of many young people in the hall was the perfect opportunity to involve them directly in a survey, to understand their interests and their perception of the sector, and to offer them job opportunities. In view of this they were asked, through an online questionnaire, to send their candidacy, to companies associated with UNRAE.

"Given the number of registrations - commented Fenoglio - we can safely say that this was also an important opportunity to understand which aspects of the industry can appeal to young people, and how to make the profession even more attractive, through appropriate information and targeted training programs. The results of the questionnaire showed a remarkable interest in the field of auto repair. In fact, about a third of the participants completed the test and showed interest in working as a mechanic: 90% of those who responded declared a "high" or "very high" interest in this profession especially towards brands represented by UNRAE (Daf, Isuzu, Man, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Nissan, Renault Trucks, Scania, Volvo Trucks).  "All of them seem to have clear ideas, and would not be satisfied with just any job", declares Fenoglio. Almost half of them, in fact, indicated only one brand among the 8 available, while only 7% listed them all indistinctly. As far as gender is concerned, the survey shows that this is still a male profession. A gap that UNRAE aims to reduce by encouraging women to work in the sector. The participants in the test were mostly men (only 3% women), with an average age of 18 and coming for the most part from northern Italy. All attend professional institutes and are passionate about mechatronics and engines.

It is also interesting to note that the possibility of indicating multiple answers has revealed the desire of these young men to get involved in a sector that knows how to evolve technologically  (over 52%), an aspiration as strong as that of having a job opportunity (about 54%). Finally, the survey revealed that 80% of the sample attributed great importance to professional growth and specialization, followed at a distance by teamwork (34%) and organizational autonomy (22%). On the other hand, not much importance was given to distance from home (16%) and even less to flexible working hours (only 8%). UNRAE is determined to develop this initiative by encouraging contacts between these young people and its member companies as well as organizing further events to extend these opportunities to other young people who show interest and want to work in this sector.

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