FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2006
College Receives $344,000 for Auto Tech Instruction
College of the Canyons has been awarded a $344,000 grant by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office to develop and deliver an automotive technology program. The college became eligible for the funding, made available under an Economic and Workforce Development Program, because it was able to demonstrate that it had $347,000 in matching funds available -- an important funding criteria.
The matching funds were provided through a collaboration with the Santa Clarita Valley Auto Dealers Association, the William S. Hart Union School District and College of the Canyons.
The Automotive Technology Program is badly needed in this region due to a critical shortage of highly qualified automotive technicians. "Today's automotive technician bears no resemblance to the stereotypical "grease monkey" of days gone by," said Audrey Green, dean of new programs and vocational training at College of the Canyons. "The work of automotive technicians and mechanics," said Green, "has evolved from mechanical repair to a high technology job."
A recent local survey was conducted to determine the scope of the need for an automotive technology program. One-hundred regional businesses that included new car dealers, general automotive repair facilities and automotive specialty repair/maintenance shops were contacted. Survey results indicated that in the next year alone, there would be a 34 percent increase in demand for qualified automotive technicians. More importantly, over the next five years, demand for automotive technicians will increase 87 percent in this region of Los Angeles County.
"Because of the severe shortage of automotive technicians," stressed Green, "competition between local dealers has even extended to hiring qualified auto technicians away from rival dealers."
Today, integrated electronic systems and complex computers run vehicles and measure their performance while on the road. Technicians must have an increasingly broad base of knowledge about how vehicles' complex components work and interact, as well as the ability to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and computer-based technical reference materials.
The college's program will initially utilize space at the automotive bays at Saugus High School and will result in either an automotive technology associate's degree or a program certificate of achievement. Money from the grant will be used to redesign the layout of the facility; upgrade wiring and infrastructure to support high tech and diagnostic equipment; and expand the number of auto service bays from two to four.
Once the auto technology program is fully implemented, it is the college's intention to apply for National Automotive Technicians Education Foundations (NATEF) certification.