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Pima Community College unveiled its new automotive tech center in downtown Tucson with a goal to help meet high demand for skilled technicians in the industry, including Arizona’s growing electric and autonomous vehicle manufacturing sector.
The opening of the Automotive Technology and Innovation Center is just the start of a major effort by the district to expand technical training to produce tech workers in other fields and stimulate the local economy.
It’s also the realization of a long sought-after goal for Chancellor Lee Lambert, who came to the district in 2013.
“I think there’s many of you in this community, I know especially the dealers and all the other automotive folks, you’ve been waiting for this moment,” Lambert said at the recent ribbon cutting for the center.
Programs in diesel, electric and autonomous vehicles
Located at the school’s downtown Tucson campus, the two-story, 50,000 square feet center will support programs in diesel, electric and autonomous vehicles and increase training for specific brands such as Ford, Fiat-Chrysler and Subaru.
Students can study engine diagnosis and repair, electrical fundamentals, steering, alignment, brakes and other programs.
Education paying off for grads
Automotive technicians who complete a two-year Automotive Technology Associate degree earn over 20 percent more, on average, than a technician without a degree, college officials said. An automotive technology degree also is a step towards other careers in the field, whether as a dealership manager, mechanic, salesperson or specialist focused on improving the future of automotive technology, school officials said.
Technicians in Arizona are earning an average $22.41 per hour, about 8 percent higher than the national average, according to employment website Indeed.
Severe auto tech shortage
There are plenty of positions available for grads. By 2024, the industry is projected to be short by approximately 642,000 automotive, diesel, and collision technicians, according to a report issued by the Phoenix-based TechForce Foundation last year.