It can be a challenge to land a prime spot on a race car pit crew. Yet vehicle dealerships across the country are scrambling to find qualified automotive technicians for their own “pit crews”-even with salaries of $30,000 to $70,000 or more, depending on the market and the technician’s level of training.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the auto industry will need 35,000 new technicians every year through 2010.
Lucrative But Overlooked Careers. With that in mind, an unusual contest is getting into gear with the purpose of increasing awareness about this lucrative and rewarding yet often-overlooked career, and support training opportunities for future technicians. It’s called the No. 29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge. And it is a challenge. “Historically, being an automotive technician has been depicted as a dirty, dead-end kind of job,” said Peter Lord, executive director, GM Service Operations. “That old stereotype could not be further from the truth. Today’s cars and trucks are very sophisticated-the computer technology in them alone, for example, is nearly 1,000 times more powerful than what took the Apollo mission to the moon.””Dealerships need trained, qualified technicians because they know that satisfaction with vehicle service and repair work is closely tied to how customers view their vehicles and the dealership.”The Challenge benefits automotive technician training like this: If driver Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 car wins two out of 12 selected NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races beginning May 28 with the Coca-Cola 600, GM Goodwrench will set up a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) high school students to continue their automotive technical education by attending GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) colleges. AYES is a nonprofit business and education partnership that creates automotive technology career opportunities for promising young men and women at automotive dealerships. It was founded in 1995 by former GM Chairman Jack Smith as a way to address the growing need for technicians.
Spreading The Word”There are thousands of NASCAR fans-and others-who are ideal candidates for a career as an automotive technician,” said Larry Cummings, CEO of AYES. “The Expertise Challenge is a fun and engaging way to help spread the word about these great career opportunities.”Students enrolled in GM ASEP two-year programs earn while they learn, rotating their time between classes and interning at GM dealerships and other GM service centers. There are 66 GM ASEP participating schools in 38 U.S. states, 15 in Canada and one in the People’s Republic of China. Successful students graduate with an associate’s degree, and either are ready for or have passed their National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test. More than 2,000 students are currently enrolled in the program, and there are more than 14,000 graduates.
If Harvick and the team meet the Expertise Challenge by winning two of the 12 select races, GM Goodwrench will award 29 Grand Prizes, which consist of an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate and a trunk full of Reese’s products.
Program Rules Available. If only one race is won during the promotion, two lucky winners will be awarded an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate, and a trunk full of Reese’s products. They will also donate $25,000 to the GM Goodwrench Scholarship Fund. If no races are won during the promotion, the promotion will still give away an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate, and a trunk full of Reese’s products to one lucky winner, and provide a $25,000 donation to the GM Goodwrench Scholarship fund.