Icahn Automotive Group, which owns and operates Pep Boys, AAMCO, Precision Tune Auto Care, and Jacksonville-area service provider RPM Automotive, recently announced the addition of Universal Technical Institute’s (UTI) Orlando campus to its Race to 2026 efforts, concluding the program’s technical school efforts for 2019.
Launched earlier this year, the Race to 2026 initiative encourages more men and women to pursue viable careers in the skilled trades by partnering with technical training schools and offering scholarships, tuition reimbursement, creating apprenticeship and internship programs, job placement and continuing education opportunities. In total, Icahn Automotive has partnered with six Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech locations to reach students enrolled in automotive technology programs across the U.S.
“As a nationwide service network, we need skilled technicians in cities and towns across the country, so our partnership with UTI enables us to connect with students and provide additional support as they prepare for a career in the skilled trades,” said Icahn Automotive Service CEO Brian Kaner. “While it’s critical that we continue to hire trained technicians for our shops, we also want the students to know that no matter where they land, they made a great decision to become an automotive technician and they’re entering an industry full of promise and opportunity.”
In Orlando, Icahn Automotive, Pep Boys and RPM leaders and technicians, and UTI administrators, instructors and students came together to unveil classroom designs that incorporated images of the well-known service brands, technicians hard at work and career maps that illustrate the many paths an automotive technician can take. The renovated areas included new furniture and equipment plus inspiring messages on the classroom walls including “Find the tools you need,” “Find your own path” and “Find out how far you can go.”
To celebrate the partnerships, Dominic Lightner, an automotive technology student at UTI in Orlando was presented with a $2,500 scholarship from Icahn Automotive. The event also included the Pep Boys Mobile crew service rig and mobile diagnostic vehicles, unique mobile repair and diagnostic vehicles that provides on-location services as well as a new, dynamic career opportunity for automotive service program graduates.
“Universal Technical Institute’s partnership with Icahn Automotive Group is incredibly beneficial to our students and the industry, particularly the automotive aftermarket,” said John Dodson, vice president, business alliances and NASCAR at Universal Technical Institute. “As the need for skilled technicians continues to grow, so does the need for quality technical education. Four out of five of our graduates will get jobs in the industry after roughly a year of UTI training, and they’re ready to hit the ground running as soon as they enter the workforce. Icahn Automotive is our largest aftermarket partner and has hired more UTI graduates than any other aftermarket employer in the past couple of years.”
Icahn Automotive has more than 135 service locations in the state, and immediate openings for automotive service technicians of all levels. The need is reflective of the skills gap that exists in the automotive industry nationally.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the automotive industry will need nearly 46,000 more technicians by 2026 to meet anticipated demand. 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, in recent decades technical training and related career assistance for those interested in the skilled trades was not keeping pace.
Each year, however, UTI is graduating thousands of well-trained and qualified automotive service technicians, who will go on to fill the many open automotive jobs across the country. The Orlando campus is one of 13 UTI locations across the nation and offers a 51-week automotive technology training program, along with a diesel program and advanced and manufacturer-specific training. Orlando also is home to UTI’s Motorcycle Mechanics Institute that prepares students specifically for a career in the motorcycle industry. The national Race to 2026 program was launched this past February at UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute campus in Mooresville, N.C., where students can enroll in the automotive technology program as well as specialize in the NASCAR technology program.
“Over the past several months, our field leaders and technicians came together to do the rewarding work of building the partnerships with the technical schools, creating unique programs and connecting with the students to award scholarships and offer jobs,” said Kaner. “We have a long way to go until 2026, and we look forward to continuing to our efforts to recruit more promising candidates to the skilled trades.”
Icahn Automotive offers a broad range of opportunities and career paths. Technicians can start by providing basic maintenance and move on to more complex repairs, or progress to running a company-owned store, owning and operating a franchised business, or 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. The Company also offers a scholarship program and will soon announce the 2019-2020 winners.