MRAA: Industry faces historic workforce crisis

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas says the marine industry is in an unprecedented workforce crisis.
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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas says the marine industry is in an unprecedented workforce crisis.

The MRAA today released the results of its first workforce assessment, outlining the issues that boat and engine dealers across North America face when it comes to hiring, developing and retaining employees.

Featuring insights from 517 respondents who represented more than 1,300 individual dealership locations, the 2016 MRAA Workforce Assessment delivers 35 pages of statistics and commentary on everything from current staffing demographics to the skill deficiencies of new hires and from dealership training budgets to opinions about why the industry has such a difficult time finding and retaining quality employees.

This guide is a free download for MRAA members here.

“What this study tells us is that our industry is facing a workforce crisis unlike it’s ever seen before,” MRAA president Matt Gruhn said in a statement. “Dealers are operating their businesses at less than 80 percent of their staffing needs and they expect to need even more employees over the course of the next three years. This problem is only getting worse as baby boomers are retiring from the workforce and our industry finds itself needing even more employees in order to support its current growth trajectory."

Responses to the MRAA Workforce Assessment show that more than 21 percent of the positions dealers had budgeted to have on their payrolls in 2016 remain unfilled and that more than 90 percent of dealers have multiple positions unfilled.

Coupling those staffing needs with the six additional positions dealers expect to need to fill during the next three years, the study shows that the marine industry could be faced with a deficit of nearly 10 employees per dealership location, or 30,000 total employees — at just the dealer level — in the very near future.

“This report should serve as somewhat of a wake-up call for the marine industry,” Gruhn said. “We’re glad that we finally have real-life data to support the anecdotal evidence we’ve had on this problem, but now it’s time to get busy acting on this very specific insight into the challenges that our dealers, and in fact our entire industry face every single day.”

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