DETROIT (AP) – There is a shortage of skilled workers in Michigan to make repairs on boats and other watercraft as the state’s boating season approaches, according to some marinas and industry observers.

John Ropp, president of Michigan Boating Industry Association, said there is anecdotal evidence that marinas and boat repair shops are having problems filling jobs. Observers say the shortage is due in part to new technology on boats and in engines, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

“It’s something I hear from members from many different parts of the state,” Ropp said. “I don’t think it’s reached a critical stage.”

Starting technicians with some training earn about $14 to $17 an hour to repair fiberglass and aluminum boats, outboard motors and diesel engines, according to the association. Senior mechanics can expect a wage from about $25 to $35 an hour – and possibly higher for larger watercraft.

Dave Unger, co-owner of Detroit’s Custom Enterprise, said his sole mechanic left in December with no explanation. His upholstery and canvas repair worker left in August. He said he’s used the Internet to try to find potentially qualified workers, but jobs are backed up as he waits for replies.

“I’ve called at least 300 people to offer them a $32-an-hour mechanics job, with benefits, and I can’t get anyone to call me back,” said Unger.

Some workers say it’s the nature of the job that makes them hesitant to accept full-time work. Michael Crowe, 32, who lives near Traverse City as well as Grand Haven, said he does occasional upholstery work and other repairs in southwest and northwest Michigan.

“It’s really hard, stuffy work, and it’s a whole lot better when you can try to set your pace,” said Crowe, who has gotten several calls from people needing work.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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