ALBANY – With the explosion in computer technology packed into today’s cars, it’s getting harder for auto dealerships and mechanic shops to find enough qualified technicians.

Albany Technical College is looking to meet that demand by rolling out an expansion of its transportation workforce development program to include automotive technology and auto collision repair. The college announced the inclusion of those programs in the Transportation Academy during a Wednesday morning ceremony.

Wiley Sanders Truck Lines also donated a 53-foot trailer to the Transportation Academy during the ceremony for use in the commercial truck driving program.

“We’re seeing an extreme shortage of trained technicians,” Sam Sherry, service manager at Sunbelt Ford-Lincoln of Albany, told the audience. “The technology of vehicles is going at such a fast pace, we can’t keep up with it. It’s not just us, it’s everywhere.”

The dealership recently signed on with Albany Tech’s apprenticeship program and now employs two students.

“I’d say the biggest shortage I see is with electrical, because everything is electrical now,” he said. “You must understand electrical before you go any further.”

The two apprentices are working in the Quick Lane service area, which provides such services as oil changes, brake inspection and repair and wiper blade changes.

“While they’re working at Quick Lane, we give them training in Ford technology,” Sherry said during an interview following the ceremony. “What I’m looking for are people who have the ability to understand that type of knowledge.

“We have technicians and mechanics. The mechanic puts the part on; the technician tells them they need to put (that) part on.”

Bill Underwood, instructor/chair for the automotive collision program at Albany Tech, said that field also is in high demand.

“I’m having a hard time (training enough) painters for the Marine Corps (Logistics) base (in Albany),” he said.

The addition of those two areas to the Transportation Academy combines them with commercial truck driving and diesel equipment technology. The academy was developed at ATC to create a pool of trained, qualified workers to support transportation and industries depending on the movement of goods and services in the southwest Georgia region.

“Transportation and transportation support jobs are in high demand in our region and across the country,” ATC President Anthony Parker said. “We know that the Albany Transportation Academy has outstanding potential to address and solve multiple workforce issues.

“With these jobs, a person can support themselves and their families and build a great future.”

For Kevin Davis, automotive training has brought about his ownership of his own business — Any Time Automotive — in east Albany.

Davis initially trained in collision repair and painting. He completed his work in automotive technology and has added car repairs to his business.

Now he is in classes for welding.

“I’m trying to expand my resume,” he said. “If I can have my hands in a little bit of everything, I’ll never be out of a job.”

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