Tony Molla: Why advanced training can give you a leg up in the ‘Garage of the Future’
Editor’s Note: Tony Molla, ASA’s vice president of industry relations, contributed this editorial piece – for ASA – that was included in an “Empowering Auto Care” insert in USA Today.
The demand for technical workers is skyrocketing. Nowhere is that more true than in the automotive industry, where the future is bright for talented young people with science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills.
That’s right, we’ve added an “A” to STEM skills to reflect the need for creative thinking in solving problems in the 21st Century. Along with the change in educational focus to provide students with the skills relevant to today’s workplace, the roles in STEAM careers are also evolving.
Unlike many high-tech careers that require advanced college degrees, most of the technical roles in the automotive industry can begin with a certificate program. The ability to find secure, well-paying jobs without having to incur a mountain of student debt is certainly a plus, but it’s only the beginning.
Many opportunities exist for those with the right technical training and a STEAM career can be a gateway to a much wider working world with more choices than most realize.
The new garage
Today’s dealership service departments and independent repair shops are a far cry from what you might envision. Modern vehicle service facilities are clean, well-organized operations stocked with some of the latest computer technology.
What used to be purely mechanical systems like brakes, steering, and suspension are now part of a rolling computer network. Engines and transmissions use electronic fuel delivery and powertrain management computers to achieve low emissions and greater efficiency, leading to better performance and lower fuel consumption.
Hybrid and electric drivetrains point to the future of mobility, and all of these systems work together through the onboard network to provide safe, reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly transportation options that didn’t exist when many of today’s students were born.
The new mechanic
Finding the talent to maintain, service and repair an increasingly complex vehicle fleet is one of the largest challenges facing the automotive industry. That translates into opportunities for those with the skills and knowledge to fill those jobs. But there’s even more.
Working in a STEAM career means keeping up with advancing technology and that means ongoing training. Most employers include ongoing training as part of their benefits package. They’re willing to make the investment in their workforce to stay competitive, and that investment not only benefits their business, it benefits their employees by keeping their skills sharp and on the cutting edge of what’s next. That translates into secure jobs and employable talent, which ensures career growth and increased opportunities down the road. If you’re looking for a high-tech career, the future is STEAM.
Tony Molla is ASA’s vice president of industry relations.