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New Fort Worth group hopes to connect students to high-paying jobs in the automotive industry



New Fort Worth group hopes to connect students to high-paying jobs in the automotive industry

The Fort Worth Chamber says one industry is facing a big, common problem.

“If I talk to my members, large and small, from the airlines to engineering firms to the brake shop on the corner, the number one challenge that they are facing is workforce and talent; attracting and retaining skilled workforce, across the board,” said Steve Montgomery, President and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber.

That includes companies like American Airlines, BNSF, and Trinity Metro, according to the Chamber.

So, they created the Automotive Task Force, chaired by Brendan Harrington, president of Autobahn Fort Worth.

They hope to connect students and schools to businesses, even providing internship and hiring opportunities.

“It’s like actually… brochures to give to the parents and the students. Okay, here’s my steps. Here’s what they can expect from these different businesses in town. And here’s my path to ultimately having a great life,” Harrington explained.

He and Montgomery say many students don’t know about all the high-paying jobs their highly-valued skills can open up.

“They may have an interest in automotive, but they don’t know what they could achieve with the attainment of some skills or the breadth of industries that they could go into, you know, the from airlines to again, to engineering,” Montgomery said.

The task force will also make sure students and schools have access to the latest tools and technologies.

They’re partnering with Fort Worth ISD for a pilot program to launch this upcoming school year.

They’ll also be partnering with Tarrant County College, which already has a two-year automotive service technology degree.

“We teach also internal combustion engines, electrical components and whatnot. Can they work on generators? Of course. Can they work on machinery? Of course they can,” explained Orlando Grijalva, an instructor of 16 years.

He hopes the extra attention will mean his students will be more valued in the workforce.

“These are young technicians that need to be valued for their skills,” he said. “Look, I invested all this time, all this energy, I have this diploma, so therefore they need to be treated like in other trades that they’re valuable employees for the organization that they work for.”

Harrington agrees that technicians have traditionally faced a bad reputation.

“It’s one of those jobs that I think is often misunderstood,” he said. “Not only is it a highly skilled position now, it’s also a highly paid position.”

Ivan Glenn started Tarrant County College’s automotive program in December after working on his own cars for a while.

“YouTube can only take you so far, so I decided to come to school and learn a little bit more,” he said.

Glenn said he’s already changing his roadmap and wants to take his skills outside of his own garage, to a company like Mercedes or BMW.

“I’ve learned a lot. More than just by myself with YouTube,” he said.

Montgomery said the Chamber plans to bring more businesses to the table with their task force.

“Making them aware of this program that they will voluntarily come to the table and say, ‘We want to be part of this,'” he said.

“It’s a win-win because obviously Tarrant County employers need good employees and young students need a path to success. So they stay here and are successful,” Harrington added.

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