EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - An adult apprenticeship program with more than 40 students has been launched by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools to train new-car technicians.

“We have two classes – one on the East Brunswick Campus and one on the Piscataway Campus – that meet two nights a week,” said Dawn Lystad, MCVTS director of adult education.

Although it is a two-year program with 144 hours of instruction per year, as well as on-the-job training, students who have had related technical training or work experience can apply for credits that can accelerate certification, Lystad said.

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The program is being facilitated by a Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) grant from the state Department of Labor through the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJ CAR), a nonprofit organization serving new car and truck retailers.

“We’re excited to be partnering with NJ CAR to be offering this nontraditional apprenticeship program,” said Lystad, who also is the network apprenticeship coordinator for Middlesex County, funded by the state Department of Labor.

Breanna Datello of NJ CAR said there is a shortage of new-vehicle service technicians nationwide, with as many as 12,500 needed by New Jersey’s 514 dealerships. 

Simultaneously, a grant from the state Department of Labor is also enabling new pre-apprenticeship programs in manufacturing, machine-tool technology and automotive technology for MCVTS high school students.

“This program will train and place our secondary students into apprentice occupations,” said Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education. “More than 100 students are participating this year.”

A $115,000 Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) grant helps to pay high school students while they are being trained and will also provide took kits, safety equipment, and work gear.

McDonald said the curriculum was developed with the input of MCVTS faculty members.

The MCVTS Adult School also offers a daytime program in practical nursing, and evening programs in electrical technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; plumbing technology, as well as apprentice training in construction trades and manufacturing industries, and customized training that can be developed to meet the needs of employers.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has campuses in East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway and Woodbridge, offering 34 career majors for high school students. More information is available at www.mcvts.net.