Bloomfield, NJ – Over the weekend, Universal Technical Institute in Bloomfield welcomed over one hundred high school students from the New York Metropolitan Area to test their automotive knowledge in the campus’s annual Top Tech Challenge. The winning team received a full scholarship to UTI to learn in-demand skills for an industry that is facing significant labor shortages and is in need of new talent.
On February 8, fifty-one teams of two competed from thirty-seven high schools. Students engaged in written and hands-on testing on vehicle parts, brakes, diagnostics, and electrical systems, using UTI’s state-of-the-industry equipment and facilities. The top six teams received UTI scholarships ranging from 25 to 100% percent of tuition costs, and the best three teams additionally received Snap-On® tool sets for their high schools valued at up to $2,365. The winning teams hailed from Thomas Edison Career & Technical Education High School (1st and 3rd place), Granville Junior/Senior High School (2nd), Monmouth County Career Center (4th), Morris County School of Technology (5th), and Sayreville War Memorial High School (6th).
“These students have really applied themselves to their passion, and their knowledge and skills reflect this. They will be a credit to the auto and diesel industries when they enter the workforce,” said Steve McElfresh, UTI-Bloomfield Campus President. “Unfortunately, high schoolers pursuing these careers often do not enjoy the same level of institutional and social support compared to traditional 4-year colleges. We take great pride in programs like the Top Tech Challenge, without which a lucrative, fulfilling career in auto tech might not have been possible for some students.”
Outdated perceptions of what it means to be an automotive or diesel technician can hold young people back from pursuing careers in field, while employers in the New York/New Jersey area -- and across the nation -- are facing critical skilled labor shortages. According to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be, on average, more than 120,000 job openings in the automotive, diesel and collision repair industries each year from 2016 through 2026. As part of its work to meet industry demands for trained technicians, UTI partners with more than 30 of the nation’s leading transportation manufacturer brands, who help shape the curricula, offer tuition support packages for students, and outfit campuses with the latest vehicles and the same tools and sophisticated technology graduates will see and use on the job. More than four out of five UTI graduates are employed full-time in their field within a year of graduating.