(ARA) – It used to be all a car mechanic needed was a good set of tools, some oil and knowledge of a car’s parts and pieces.
But in today’s highly technical world, automotive technicians are going to school for a lot more training, especially in the technology fields.
Technology is changing the automotive industry, and industry professionals are expressing concern in finding enough qualified employees to hire. The experts stress the importance of reaching young people early to recruit them into automotive careers and ensuring they have top-notch training in the technical aspects of the field.
Job opportunities will abound for skilled automotive technicians, and continued growth in the number of vehicles in use in the United States will lead to new jobs for workers performing basic car maintenance and repair, according to the 2010-2011 Edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook. Retiring baby boomers will also create additional job openings.
“Qualified technicians are in great demand,” says John Hurd, president of the WyoTech campus in Sacramento, Calif. “Having good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, as well as training in electronics and computer skills, will give a job candidate a great lead over the competition, especially for entry-level positions.”
Despite the bright job prospects, finding talented employees with the right skill set is difficult. Hurd stressed that WyoTech makes an important contribution to the automotive industry by training young people for careers in automotive technology. He says that advances in automotive technology do not pose significant challenges for WyoTech. “No matter what technology aspects manufacturers put into the newest and most advanced cars – if it’s being built, we’re going to train our technicians to fix it.”
Young students and students entering the automotive field from a different career all make great candidates for automotive technicians, says Hurd. But one challenge in educating students from so many different backgrounds is often a lack of basic technical knowledge for entering students. “We get students who don’t even know what a screwdriver is, so we still have to start with the basics,” Hurd says.
Adjusting for new automotive trends like hybrids and advanced diagnostics also keeps the school up to date in the mechanical industry. “You have to know how to tune the engine and chassis to work together, for instance,” Hurd says. “While we used to have a six-month program, we now go through nine-, 12- and 15-month programs so that the students can raise their skill levels and become better employees.”
Vocational education and technical colleges help the automotive industry meet its future talent needs. A focused technical education can teach students the skills that they are going to need for the future as an automotive technician.