Virginia Western Launches Expanded Automotive Technician Program

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Students will gain hands-on training for careers at additional automotive facility

Virginia Western Community College’s School of Career and Corporate Training (CCT) and School of Business, Trades, and Technology (BTT), in collaboration with the Berglund Automotive Group, will offer expanded automotive service technician training beginning January 2020. Students can learn the skills they need in as little as five weeks to start an in-demand career as a general service technician. Most classes will be offered in the evening or on Saturday mornings, allowing students to keep their day jobs.

There is a national shortage of automotive service technicians as many experienced workers retire. In the Roanoke metropolitan statistical area, there were 847 automotive service technician jobs in 2018, 26 percent more than the national average, according to Emsi. There were 52 active job postings in the average month and the median hour earnings were $19.35. Employer demand and automotive classes with waiting lists encouraged the college to offer more classes at a new Franklin Road location.

Berglund and its president, William J. Farrell II, were integral in helping this expansion hit the road. Berglund donated class space at one of its facilities–a former automotive dealership–where students can train in an automotive shop under supervision of a qualified instructor. In addition, Farrell and his family created a permanently endowed fund with the Virginia Western Educational Foundation to support students through scholarships.

“In our business, we have a very tough time filling all of the automotive technician opportunities that we have. It has become such a specialized field,” said Farrell, who is the treasurer for the Educational Foundation Board of Directors. “We felt that this was the best way for us to give back to the whole community – to grow a regional workforce not only for us, as an automotive group, but for all of our automotive colleagues in the Valley. We are glad to be a part of growing automotive opportunity for the entire region.”

The new training facility on Franklin Road will permit the college to offer more of its already in-demand automotive courses, combined with brand new entry-level and continuing education workshops for new and practicing automotive technicians.  A variety of courses will begin in January 2020, from Automotive Electricity I, to Automotive On-Ramp (General Service) Training, and exam preparation for Virginia State Safety Inspectors. Depending on the type of course, students may be eligible for tuition assistance such as scholarship through the Virginia Western Educational Foundation.

“We are excited to join with an automotive industry partner to offer this program in a real working environment,” said Dr. Milan Hayward, Vice President of the School of Career and Corporate Training. “Students will acquire the skills they need to succeed and find mobility across many potential employers in our region.”

For more information on the automotive service technician program and to learn how to enroll, please call 540-857-6076 or visit:  https://virginiawestern.edu/workforce or https://www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/transportation.php. To learn more about potential scholarships, please visit the Educational Foundation web site at:  https://virginiawestern.edu/foundation/index.php.