MRAA releases 2016 workforce assessment

On Monday, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas released the marine industry’s first comprehensive Workforce Assessment, outlining the issues faced by boat and engine dealers across North America 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 on why the marine industry has such a difficult time finding and retaining quality employees. This guide is a free download for MRAA members.

“What this study tells us is that our industry is facing a workforce crisis unlike it’s ever seen before,” said Matt Gruhn, president of MRAA. “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 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 over 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.”

For more information, visit or call 763-315-8043.

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