A Ford visit shows how education is racing forward

From Jennifer Bergeron, Campus President at NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville:

This week, Edsel B. Ford II, the great grandson of Henry Ford, visited Mooresville. He spoke at a Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce luncheon, checked out a local Ford dealership and toured our NASCAR Technical Institute campus.

Mr. Ford’s tour created an exciting energy at our campus – it’s not often a member of the first family of American automobiles stops by. He got to see students in action in our Ford labs, learning to diagnose, repair and maintain the latest Ford vehicles. This visit did more than highlight the dramatic technological advances made since the first car rolled off his great grandfather’s assembly line in 1908. It also called attention to the shared value of education and industry working together to prepare students for the workforce.

The transportation sector, and more specifically the auto industry, is booming. As vehicle sales rise, gas prices drop and the economy continues to improve, American auto makers are firing on all cylinders. That growth is driving an incredible demand for trained service technicians.

Already, the sector has more jobs available than there are techs to fill them and, as Baby Boomers begin to retire, the gap will only widen. By the year 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor projects there will be more than 1.2 million jobs in the collision, automotive, motorcycle and marine industries.

These jobs pay well, cannot be off-shored and offer great opportunities for advancement. They are ready to be filled with trained technicians who are ready to work. And partnerships between industry and education are critical for training the next generation of skilled workers.

Today’s skilled tradespeople operate in a high-tech world. Transportation service technicians are experts in the complex and innovative digital systems that keep modern vehicles running, and spend as much time in front of computers as they do under hoods. These sophisticated technician jobs require sophisticated training.

NASCAR Technical Institute is one Universal Technical Institute campus of 11 across the country, with a curriculum that is built on the input and guidance of more than 30 of the industry’s most successful, respected manufacturers, including Ford. These partnerships let us provide current, industry-relevant training, so we’re able to give students the knowledge and skills employers want.

Education and industry partnerships create not only a curriculum rooted in the needs of the industry, but also a crucial infrastructure to sustain the growing need for highly-skilled technicians. Today, the company Mr. Ford’s family founded over a century ago partners with UTI in order to invest in our country’s current and future generations of technicians.

Together, education and industry can work toward ensuring that the transportation industry maintains it leadership as a top contributor to the American economy and creates opportunity, prosperity and security for the technicians who keep our vehicles moving.