…Manufacturers, such as Ford, BMW, Volvo, and their dealerships hope to help educators turn a corner on automotive training to meet U.S. demand for repair jobs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the nation will need an average of 76,600 car and light truck mechanics annually through 2026. In New Jersey, that accounts for 3,400 jobs each year, or 23,800 over the next seven years, according to Jim Appleton, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. And the number of young automotive technicians graduating from the state’s vocation programs is not enough to meet the need.
“The demand is staggering,” Appleton said.
New Jersey voters recently approved the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, allocating millions to vocational schools and community colleges that may trickle down to auto tech training. Of the $500 million approved, $350 million will be set aside for vocational programs, as well as K-12th security. A specific amount for vocational or automotive education has not been determined, according to Judy Savage, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools.
“Automotive is one of the longest-standing programs in those schools,” she said. “It is hard to afford the equipment, which is computer-driven and continually in need of updates to keep up with what the industry expects.”
…In the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes New Jersey, dealership techs earn an average $59,543 annually, (Appleton) said.
Someone who put more time and money into a bachelor’s degree, by comparison, earned a median annual income of $62,600 in New Jersey in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau…
…Today’s work requires computer savvy in addition to the mechanical skills, which makes recruitment of qualified candidates challenging, said Alan Graf Jr., co-owner of Teterboro Chrysler Jeep in Little Ferry.
…“The opportunities are out there as long as you have the drive,” Graf said. “I’ve got people making over $100,000, plus pension and benefits.”