Auto industry faces worker shortage, Missouri high school hopes to fix



BOLIVAR, Mo. – As cars continue to develop new features, some auto shops are struggling to find qualified technicians. Kelly Grant is a Ford dealership in Bolivar.

“If we’re going to survive and continue to repair cars in this world that continues to become more technologically advanced, we’re going to have to have the people who can do it,” Grant said.

But, OzarksFirst has learned that Bolivar High School is helping tackle this shortage. In addition, it helps its students to find employment after graduation.

For example, Michael Deason, a former student of Bolivar, has a part-time job with Bill Grant Ford. He works as a lubrication technician.

“I just pretty much pulled your vehicle, we’re going through all of your fluids,” Deason said. “So your brakes, the power steering, all that. Rotate your tires, check your brakes, check your suspension and change your oil. Write it down for the next time you come back.

Getting hired was not a challenge for Deason as he worked at the dealership in high school.

“During my first year, I started working here as part of the BoMo Works program,” Deason said.

BoMo Works provides students with classroom education and hands-on vocational training while they are still in school.

During his time in the program, Deason completed an apprenticeship. He has acquired over 2,000 hours of paid work experience.

“I learned a lot from the experience,” Deason said. “I have more self-confidence when I come to work on a vehicle. I entered [Bill Grant Ford] being able to take things away and better examine them to see how it works. You can see a lot of vehicles coming in with different mechanics and parts and how it all works. There are a lot of things to remember.

The partnership between Bolivar Schools and Bill Grant Ford began two years ago. Kelly Grant says it happened at the right time.

“I had previously faced technical challenges in our workshop,” Grant said. “I have realized through trial and error that the best way to do this in a rural concession is to develop your own talent. We are therefore looking for students who want to be in our company. BoMo works allows us to channel this concentration.

It worked well for Grant’s business. He says the answer to the auto technician shortage is to involve more schools.

“We need to make the education system more aware of the opportunities in our auto industry,” Grant said. “This is our number one challenge right now. We may not understand the challenges we have and the opportunities for compensation and career advancement. “

Grant says about 46,000 auto technicians are expected to be replaced over the next five years.


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