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New Jersey Needs 23,800 Auto Mechanics in the Next Seven Years

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Dec. 26, 2018—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, reports northjersey.com. 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, northjersey.com reports.

“The demand is staggering,” Appleton said to northjersey.com.

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, northjersey.com reports. 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 to northjersey.com. "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."

Dealerships account for 31 percent of U.S. technician market. They have 4.5 percent, or 10,400 workers, turning wrenches at 520 New Jersey service centers, according to Appleton.

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.

According the New Jersey Department of Education, 28 public high school districts offer automotive education, including the vocations school districts in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.

About 1,500 high school students enrolled in automotive programs at the state's 21 county vocational schools in 2015-16. There were 2,245 students enrolled in transportation studies, according to Savage.

This fall, 163 students are enrolled in automotive technician classes at public two-year colleges statewide, according to the New Jersey Office of Higher Education.

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