BCAA, BCIT and BC Ford Dealers are giving secondary students the keys to start their automotive repair careers as they team up to test students’ automotive knowledge and technical skills at the Student Auto Skills Competition on May 4 in Burnaby. The annual competition, now in its 17th year, is designed to encourage careers in the automotive industry and to cultivate talent among young, aspiring auto technicians. The Student Auto Skills competition features the top 20 high school automotive students from across B.C. – representing schools in Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Duncan, Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Princeton, Salmon Arm and Terrace. The hands-on competition consists of 10 two-student teams racing against a clock to diagnose and repair identically “bugged” malfunctions deliberately installed in vehicles. The first team to successfully start and road test their vehicle is declared the winner. Students qualified by taking exams earlier this spring. Lloyd Stamm, CEO for the Automotive Industry Training Association says the automotive repair landscape has changed considerably over the past five-to-ten years. “Automotive repair technicians shouldn’t be stereotyped as ‘grease monkeys’, as their skill set is way more advanced,” he says. “Today’s technicians must be well-educated and maintain their training to stay on top of cutting-edge advances in computer and electronic technology. Advancements in automobile safety, fuel management and comfort have led to an increasing reliance on computers and electronic components.” Over $19,000 in prizes and scholarships will be on the cards for competing schools and students. Each student on the top three teams will receive a scholarship to BCIT’s Motive Power Program and an Automotive Retailers Association scholarship to the post secondary institution of their choice. The winning school’s automotive department will also be presented with a Ford Windstar van courtesy of MSA Ford, Abbotsford and Steve Marshall Ford, Nanaimo. At a time when there is a strong demand, yet a short supply of highly-skilled and trained auto technicians, the Student Auto Skills Competition serves as a spring board for those who wish to pursue an automotive career. Each year many of participants move on to promising careers in the automotive industry as a result of participation in the competition and the scholarships they win. The competition is co-sponsored by BCAA, BCIT and BC Ford Dealers and supported by various organizations dedicated to quality auto service.