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New grant increasing qualified auto mechanics

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 03, 2023

"It's extremely important to get people to go through and get qualified to be working on cars. You know you don't want a doctor that hasn't been through school to perform surgery for you," said Eloy Martin.

Finding certified auto mechanics and technicians can be difficult these days, causing you to wait months for your car to be serviced. However, one trade school is working to help get more qualified workers into the industry.

Eloy Martin is the Co-owner of DT's garage; a family owned business that's been in Tallahassee for over 25 years. He currently has two auto technicians, but said finding people to hire can be difficult.

"That's been kind of the hardest part of the automotive industry, to have someone that's qualified, trustworthy and really knows their stuff to be employed," said Martin.

Martin said when they're not enough qualified technicians in the industry, "a lot of people are calling me on a day to day basis telling me that pretty much every single dealership in Tallahassee are a month to three months backed up."

However, one trade school program is working to get more certified workers into the field. Lively Technical College's Automotive Program received a $25,000 grant from NASCAR driver Kyle Larson and the Hendrick Automotive Group's Hendrick, Get Set, Go! Program to help get more students trained in the auto industry. The grant will allow the program to purchase more automotive training equipment for their 45 students to get familiar with and take that knowledge into the industry after they graduate.

Automotive Instructor Kenny Adams said during their 1,800 hour training, students will become well-versed in working on vehicles.

"We teach everything from bumper to bumper. Engines, transmissions, a big part of it is electrical," said Adams.

Students at Lively Technical spend about two years in the automotive program taking what they learn in the classroom, to practice in one of the learning garages, to take that hands on experience with them to get a job after school working in a shop like DT's.

Dra'von Hayes is finishing up the automotive program. He's excited to have the skills to work in an industry that desperately needs him.

"When you go out to the shops for a job and they tell you hey you're in-demand, it makes you feel better about what you're doing and it gives you better courage and helps you keep going," said Hayes.

Hayes' classmate Tiago Sousa said being apart of the program is the first step to reach his goals in the future.

"It's amazing being able to work where I work and do what I do because not everyone has these kinds of chances," said Sousa.

Martin said he's looking to hire one or two more auto technicians by the end of the year, so he's looking forward to seeing those students graduate and start their careers soon.