DETROIT – With the nationwide automotive service technician shortage worsening, Ford Motor Co. is taking aim at four hard-hit cities with a $1 million scholarship program to help 200 student service technicians get their degrees.
Demand for technicians in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix is growing while local schools are not graduating enough students to fill the jobs. Ford estimates demand for technicians will increase by 14 percent in Arizona, 10 percent in Texas, 7 percent in Georgia and 3 percent in the city of Chicago.
The $1 million scholarship fund will be available to the 200 students in $5,000 payments starting this summer; each region will get $250,000. A Ford spokesman said the company will study how the program works and could eventually roll it out to other regions and markets. The $1 million is being put up by the Ford Fund, the company's philanthropic arm, and Ford dealers.
The Ford Auto Tech Scholarship is open to current and future students who are enrolled in post-secondary auto or auto- and diesel-related technician training programs in Greater Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix, according to Ford. Scholarships are applied to a student's school tuition account and can be used to cover the cost of attendance, tuition, tools, living expenses and transportation.
"As we move toward an electrified future, these career opportunities are exciting and require skilled technicians who are proficient in STEM-related study," said Elena Ford, Ford's chief customer experience officer.
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"Working together with the Ford Fund and our dealers to offer this scholarship programs means we will welcome a new generation of diverse students to the industry and hopefully into our Ford Family to help us better serve our customers," she said.
The scholarships will be administered by the nonprofit TechForce Foundation, which works with students and professional technicians as they further their careers.
"These scholarships will go a long way in engaging students, particularly those from under-resourced communities, to consider careers in automotive technology," said Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation.
The scholarship program is the latest effort Ford is using to combat the technician shortage. Ford also works to encourage students to consider automotive engineering, computer and technical careers with its sponsorship of FIRST Robotics, a program for high school students that features competitive matches between schools in regional, state and national competitions. Ford has at least seven other programs that aim to increase the number of technicians entering the field or to improve their training.
The shortage of technicians can cause dealerships to lose business and lower customer satisfaction if customers can't get their cars repaired in a timely manner.