Pueblo Community College student speaking in front of Ford truck.

The automotive service technology program at Pueblo Community College is one of only 50 in the nation to become part of the Ford Motor Company’s Automotive Career Exploration partnership.

Representatives from the school and Spradley Ford formally announced the partnership Thursday. Spradley is PCC’s local Representatives from the school and Spradley Ford formally
announced the partnership Thursday. Spradley is PCC’s local sponsor for the program.

The ACE program is now part of PCC’s core curriculum on all of its campuses – Pueblo, Fremont and Southwest. Automotive students will receive the same basic training as dealer technicians. Students also will have the option to specialize in specific subcomponents of the program if they choose.

“They will be way ahead if they’re hired (by a dealership),” said James Cordova, chair of PCC’s automotive program.

PCC staff standing with Ford reps in front of Ford vanA shortage of automotive technicians nationwide has made it even more important for dealerships to find qualified employees who can contribute as soon as they are hired.
Vanessa Thompson, regional technical talent placement specialist for Ford, said 76,000 qualified automotive technicians are needed each year to replace those that retire or leave the profession. Right now, the number of technicians entering the workforce each year is about half that.

Carol Spradley, one of the owners of Spradley Ford, said the dealership is excited to offer more opportunities, including internships, to PCC students. She also took a moment to emphasize the role they will play in keeping their communities safe.

“You actually have people’s lives in your hands,” she said to students who attended Thursday’s announcement. “Be super proud of what you’re undertaking. It’s hugely important.”

PCC President Patty Erjavec said the school continues to look for partnerships like the one with Ford and Spradley to create more opportunities for students and workforce solutions for the communities PCC serves.

“Thank you for seeking us out and thank you for recognizing that this is an exceptional program and that we are really going to help you fill that skills gap,” she said to Thompson.

PCC also is a site for Subaru University, a Web-based program that teaches students the first two levels of Subaru service training.

The median salary for auto technicians in Colorado is $49,700, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The profession is miles removed from the old image of a greasy mechanic, said Cordova.

“We’re doing everything in our power to change the mindset of what an auto technician is,” he said.