Auto industry has a technician shortage

One industry in Colorado is in the middle of a major shortage: the auto industry needs technicians and mechanics. 9NEWS at 7 a.m. 11/02/2015.

KUSA - Colorado's unemployment rate is at 4 percent, the lowest its been since April 2007. But thousands of people still need and want a job.

This week, 9NEWS is dedicating part of the morning show every day to helping Coloradans land that perfect job.

For instance, one industry in Colorado is in the middle of a major shortage: the auto industry needs technicians and mechanics.

George Billings with the Clear the Air Foundation - the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association's nonprofit - says dealerships are feeling the pinch. Across the state, they are each short two to three techs.

"We're really seeking female students currently for this program," Michael Bevis, the dean of the automotive technology program at Emily Griffith Technical College, said. "Our industry partners like those female workers in the workplace those fine motor skills, attention to detail, [and] the work ethic."

Mariela Casillas is in the Emily Griffith Technical College program. She is a diamond in the rough in an industry dominated by men. She's already doing well, with a 4.0 GPA in the program.

"I love it," Casillas said. "It all started off when I used to work at Grease Monkey, and the guys taught me a lot, and I got inspired. They said 'You can do it regardless if you're a girl.' I want to complete my degree and work at a dealership to get experience. That way, I can open a shop."

Bevis says the shortage is due to a lack of interest in the field.

"We went through a period after the recession where everyone went back to school," Bevis said. "They were looking for four-year degrees. We're focused on creating the complete employee, so we're looking to develop individuals not only in the technical aspect of the job field, but the soft-skill aspect of it too because we want individuals to fit in an existing team."

Tuition for the auto-tech program is $8,000, and most students can finish in less than one year.

"They're coming out and getting really high paying jobs, considering the fact that it only took you a year or less to complete the program," Bevis said.

Bevis says students with auto-tech skills are getting paid $30,000 to $40,000 in entry-level positions.

"These techs can easily make upwards of a $100,000," Billings said. "We need more techs out there."

Every year, the Clear the Air Foundation gives out $50,000 in scholarships. Emily Griffith's program works with several auto shops, so many students work part time while they are enrolled in the auto-tech program. Once they graduate, they often times get hired on full time at the shop where they've been working during school.

On Tuesday, 9NEWS will take a look at another industry in Colorado that's seeing a shortage right now: School bus drivers. Paid summers off? More than minimum wage? It's not too difficult to land this job.

(© 2015 KUSA)


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