U.S.-based automotive parts and service provider Icahn Automotive is encouraging more Americans to pursue viable careers in the skilled trades.
In an ambitious response to a growing labour shortage, the owner of Pep Boys, AAMCO, and Precision Tune Auto Care, has launched a new program offering scholarships, tuition reimbursement, apprenticeships, internships, job placements, and continuing education opportunities for aspiring technicians.
According to the company, the “Race to 2026” program was designed to change the way the automotive service industry connects with, trains, and supports tomorrow’s professional technicians.
“Icahn Automotive is stepping forward to invest in the future of our businesses and our industry by helping promising technicians develop the skills necessary to be successful,” said Icahn Automotive Group CEO Dan Ninivaggi. “This industry offers young people from all backgrounds the opportunity for attractive, challenging and rewarding careers.”
The Road to 2026 program gives technicians a chance to develop their careers – from providing basic maintenance and complex repairs, to running a company-owned store, to owning and operating a franchised business, to serving in a corporate leadership role.”
Once a technician joins an Icahn Automotive business, they can take advantage of benefits such as tuition assistance, an apprenticeship program and company-sponsored certifications.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the automotive repair industry in the U.S. will need nearly 46,000 more technicians by 2026 to meet anticipated demand. Additionally, in any given year there are as many as 75,000 job openings, due in large part to the retirement of the last generation of technicians who benefitted from broadly available vocational education programs. While this demand is on par with other fields, technical training and related career assistance for those interested in the skilled trades has not kept pace.
“We’re at an inflection point in the automotive industry. We’re facing a technician shortage at a time when demand has never been higher,” said Brian Kaner, president of service for Icahn Automotive Group and Pep Boys. “Over the past several decades, vehicles have become highly computerized while we allowed the disinvestment in technical education and steered a whole generation toward four-year degrees and crippling student debt. Now, the need for service is increasing as people keep their cars longer and fleet populations grow, and the national conversation about the skilled trades is peaking as parents and students realize that technical training is again, as it always has been, an excellent first step to a successful career.”
The “Race to 2026” program was launched at Universal Technical Institute’s (UTI) NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. Icahn Automotive opened two branded classrooms in which students will learn in an environment featuring the latest educational resources. Additional Icahn Automotive-sponsored learning facilities will be established at Alfred State College of Technology, and UTI and Lincoln Tech locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.
The event provided a platform to discuss the importance of preparing youth for promising careers in the automotive trade. Icahn Automotive celebrated by awarding a $2500 scholarship to Jonathan Fanstill, a student enrolled at UTI. The scholarship is the first in a new program that will award $30,000 to 12 students annually and the company also plans to also accept students into an internship program later in the year.
Over the past several years, Icahn Automotive has invested in growing its service model through acquisition and the improvement of existing locations and a focus on people, programs, training and technology. In 2018 the company launched Pep Boys Mobile Crew, a state-of-the-art mobile repair unit that will provide on-location maintenance and gives technicians the option of a unique alternative work environment; and announced a broad relationship with Amazon.com to serve online customers through professional tire installation.
“We’re passionate about showing tomorrow’s technicians just how bright the future can be,” Kaner said. “From learning in attractive classrooms and labs to working in today’s service bays – which are sleeker than ever and filled with the latest diagnostic tools and technology – these are not their grandfathers’ auto shops. Our hope is that, by providing robust career opportunities, we will ensure an expertly trained technician is ready to provide superior customer service in every one of our bays, every day, and that in turn we positively impact that technician’s life and the overall industry.”
Icahn Automotive Group LLC was formed by its parent, Icahn Enterprises L.P., to invest in and operate businesses involved in aftermarket parts distribution and service. The business consists of Pep Boys automotive aftermarket retail and service chain, Auto Plus automotive aftermarket parts distributor, Precision Tune Auto Careowned and franchised automotive service centers, and AAMCO Total Auto Care franchised service centers.
The company also is the licensor of Cottman Transmission and operates under several local brands. The businesses of Icahn Automotive total over 22,000 employees, over 2,000 company-owned and franchise locations, and 25 distribution centers throughout the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
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