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Guam college works to fill automotive technician shortage | Business Section

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — There is a shortage of automotive technicians on the island and Guam Community College is working to fill the void as it educates students despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Right now, there is a need. I was just talking to a service manager at an advisory board meeting and he was saying they need techs like now; they need it right away. So there is a demand for that,” said GCC Automotive Instructor Jonathan Perez.

When schools on the island closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the shift to distance learning was a challenge, particularly for GCC’s automotive program, which saw a drop in student numbers. students.

“At the height of the pandemic, it was actually difficult to get students. Our automotive student enrollments have actually dropped during the pandemic. We actually think we’ve even lost students during the pandemic to online classes. Many of our students don’t like taking online courses. They like that interaction, the hands-on learning, so they didn’t want to come back to take online classes,” Perez said.

Now that students are back to in-person instruction, Perez encouraged automotive students to start their engines and get back on the road to an automotive degree.

Perez recalled his days as a GCC automotive student in the 1990s and said the program has evolved.

“It’s something totally different. It’s much more advanced than it was when I went to school here,” he said, pointing to technological advancements in tools and software.

He said the two-year automotive program and its corresponding curriculum is comparable to the education received in the states.

“I think the only difference right now would be the resources… The only difference is the kind of training equipment they have and some of the industry ties they have,” he said. he declares. “For example, in the states, some of the schools there will have ties with certain manufacturers, where the manufacturer will actually donate training materials to them.”

The GCC automobile program is the only one on the island, it is aimed at both students and high school students. The high school’s automotive program helps enroll some students in the two-year program.

Students in the high school program earn a master’s certificate after three years in the program, while maintaining an 80% or higher and completing 180 hours of work experience

On average, he said, one to two automotive high school students will go on to GCC post-secondary education and national certification. The program covers basic security and eight other areas within the field.

“We have steering and suspension, brakes, engine performance, electrical, automatic transmission, manual transmission, engine repair and HVAC, which is heating, ventilation and air conditioning,” said he declared.

By the time a student completes the program, he or she will be ready to take their certification test with the Automotive Service Excellence organization.

Pete Roberto, associate dean of the School of Trades and Professional Services, said enrollment for fall 2022 is underway and financial aid is available for eligible students.

The college maintained its tuition at $130 per credit hour.

“We have financial aid available. We are known for the scholarships we offer to students,” Roberto said.

He said the automotive program continues to grow. Currently, the school is considering expanding its curriculum to include electric and hybrid vehicles.

“So that’s something to watch over the next five to 10 years where we grow in that area. We ran a diesel mechanics boot camp and then there’s work in conjunction with the development program manpower to provide a training camp,” said Roberto.

Boot camps help students accelerate their job search because the program partners with employers.