Connecting transportation tech students and industry

The U.S. Department of Labor projects there will be more than 1.2 million job openings nationally across the automotive, diesel and collision repair industries by 2026.

“That means the economy requires an additional 100,000 technicians each year,” said Jerome Grant, Universal Technical Institute (UTI) chief operating officer. “It’s critical that Arizona students and families understand the outstanding career opportunities that await in the transportation field.” 

UTI implemented its Early Employment Program in an effort to address the need for transportation technicians in a way that supports both employers and talent.  

“The Early Employment Program is a first-of-its-kind initiative that merges post-secondary technical education with on-the-job skills training,” Grant said. 

Through the program, UTI students can apply to work for a participating employer so they can gain experience in addition to their training at UTI.   

“Graduates who complete their UTI education and meet their employers’ criteria have the opportunity to get all or a portion of their educational expenses reimbursed, as well as an offer for full-time employment,” Grant said.  

The experience allows the students to feel more comfortable with their new skills upon graduation, and it gives them the opportunity to alleviate financial burdens they may face.  

“Participating students work part-time and gain invaluable experience while they’re still in school, not to mention getting an opportunity for full-time work and their education expenses reimbursed after graduation,” Grant said.  

With the demand for skilled transportation technicians, the program gives participating employers an advantage in attracting and recruiting talent. 

“Through the Early Employment initiative employers have the opportunity to build their talent pipelines further out and avoid having to recruit and compete for technicians at the end of their education, when UTI graduates often have multiple job offers,” Grant said. 

UTI launched the program at its Avondale campus and has received a positive response from employers and students.  

“We’re already receiving requests from employers in other areas of the country, including California and Texas,” Grant said. “We plan to expand the initiative to each of our 12 campuses across the country once we build a successful foundation here in Arizona.” 

Grant explained it is an exciting time to work in the transportation industry as the jobs are becoming more high-tech.  

“It’s important that educators and employers continue to work together to break down old stigmas and elevate technical training and the skilled trades as a viable, rewarding path to success for our nation’s young people,” he said.

Photo courtesy of UTI

Sierra Ciaramella

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