After Rafael Miranda graduated from the auto program at Middlesex County Vocational Technical School in Perth Amboy, he landed a job working at an independent repair shop.
Not long after, he got a call from one of his teachers at the school, asking if he was interested in an apprenticeship with the Ray Catena Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Edison.
Miranda jumped at the opportunity. Over the summer, the service manager at Ray Catena sponsored and enrolled Miranda in the 12-week Technician Apprentice Program at Jaguar Land Rover North America headquarters in Mahwah.
“The training from Middlesex County was very helpful because it got me ready for this apprentice program,” Miranda said.
“I’ve learned a lot more about cars and the Jaguar Land Rover brand. I never thought I’d be here fixing luxury cars.”
Charles Willis, training programs supervisor for Jaguar Land Rover North America, said auto dealers like Ray Catena are looking for the next generation of technician, one who is inspired, educated and has a passion for learning.
“This is a good career to get into, especially now with the advancement of electric vehicles,” Willis said. “We’re looking for the next generation of technician to take on the next generation of technology.
Finding young people who want to work in the auto service industry is becoming increasingly difficult. Auto dealerships nationwide are facing a shortage of mechanics.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are 750,000 auto techs and mechanics across the country.
The industry will need another 46,000 more techs by 2026 to meet demand and respond to attrition, according to the bureau.
Techs working in a dealership in 2016 earned from $29,024 for a lube tech to $69,703 for a master technician, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Service advisers earned a median salary of $62,333, according to NADA.