Pierce received a $500,000 IDEAL ZEV Workforce Pilot grant from the California Energy Commission to develop a new zero-emission-vehicle curriculum, said Larry Rillera, a senior staffer in the commission’s clean transportation program.
He just finished visiting 52 high schools to turn students on to the idea of servicing zero-emission vehicles.
Students who are “into EVs are the cream of the crop,” he said. “They are interested in EV technology and design.”
Dealer associations also are funding technician training. The California New Car Dealers Association awarded $413,000 over the past five years to 334 California students for training.
“California is leading the way with innovation in the auto industry and with the adoption of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, which means that we also have to lead the way in training our future auto technician work force,” K.C. Heidler, president of Tom’s Truck Center and the California New Car Dealers Association Foundation chair, said in an email. The foundation disperses the grants.
The Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association began supporting technician resource development in 2018. This year, it dispersed $120,000 in $10,000 and $20,000 increments to community colleges for tuition assistance, tool reimbursement and equipment enhancement. Pierce is among the colleges that received a grant this year. Bob Smith, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association, declined to specify the amount it received.
Funding alone won’t attract more people to the service technician field, however, Smith said. That requires getting parents, career counselors and mentors to see it as a viable career.
“We need to change the image, but it is still tough,” he said. “A lot of dollars are being thrown at developing the next generation of auto techs, but there is still a lot to do.”