Weber State Announces Initiative to Educate Workforce for Electric Vehicles
OGDEN, Utah – The production of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is expected to increase rapidly in the next 10 years. Thanks to a grant from the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah), Weber State University’s Department of Automotive Technology is launching an initiative to help students from high schools, tech schools and college get ready to work in the changing industry. Initiative partners also include Bridgerland Technical College, Davis Technical College, Ogden-Weber Technical College, Salt Lake Community College and the Davis, Weber and Ogden school districts.
The launch of the Automotive Strategic Workforce Initiative is set for Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. in the Computer & Automotive Engineering Building at WSU Davis (2750 N. University Park Blvd., Layton). Event speakers will include Scott Hadzik, WSU automotive technology chair; Utah Rep. Suzanne Harrison; Sen. Chris Wilson; and Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities executive director.
The automotive lab will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several hundred high school students are expected to attend. The Beehive A’s will also host a Model A car show in the parking lot, highlighting the advance in automotive technology.
Weber State’s automotive technology department, housed in the College of Engineering Applied Science & Technology, is leading the partnership in an effort to ensure that students from high school to college get the training they need to work safely on EVs. Weber State faculty, who have been trained by manufacturers, will oversee the education.
“More manufacturers are talking about commitments to produce only electric vehicles in the near future,” Hadzik said. “We’re putting together a partnership with the state and industry in order to make sure technicians are ready to safely work on these vehicles. Safety measures need to be taken, and there is very little training that currently exists.”
Through the partnership, schools are coordinating stackable degree options, so students can move easily from one institution to another and from one degree to another to advance their education. Increased skills lead to higher wages and validate the need for the strategic workforce investment. Students taking advantage of the stackable credential track will possess the technical skills necessary to be employed with automotive repair facilities throughout the state.
“We’re thrilled to see state dollars support an initiative that’s contributing to the current and future economic stability of Utah while actively sustaining and protecting our environment,” said Dan Hemmert, Go Utah’s executive director. “The launch of the Automotive Strategic Workforce Initiative is a powerful demonstration of community partners joining forces with Utah’s education system to solve both workforce and environmental challenges, providing greater access to education and career opportunities for Utah’s students.”
The initiative will also connect high school students to mentors who can explain the technological advancement of automotive manufacturing and answer questions about industry needs, career options and salaries.
Almost 100 pure-electric EV models are set to debut in the United States by the end of 2024, and President Joe Biden has called for electric vehicles to be half of all new auto sales by 2030. A recent executive order encourages the U.S. auto industry and government to promote legislation and the adoption of electrified vehicles. In order to keep the new EVs safely on the road, industry leaders say it’s imperative for educational institutions to prepare students.
“For the last 30 or more years, we have seen the need for qualified technicians,” wrote Steve Hoellein, Automotive Aftermarket Advisory Council chair, in a letter of support for the initiative. “Over the years vehicles have become more advanced and the shortage of technicians keeps growing. We recognize that the great automotive education institutions are in place here. It's the only pathway to get these great students to enter into this high-demand, high-wage career field."
Visit weber.edu/automotive for more information about Weber State’s automotive and technology program.
For photos, visit this link.
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