EAGAN Minn.- Cheap gas and a stronger economy are just a few reasons the automobile industry has grown over recent years.
Last year alone auto makers sold more than 17-million vehicles. That number doesn't account for the millions of vehicles already on the road and with more cars, there is more work for the auto technician industry.
According to ABRA Auto Body and Glass the auto industry will be short an estimated 100,000 body technicians over the next 5-to-6 years. To address that shortage ABRA is taking matters into its own hands and actually paying people to learn the trade and become technicians.
"Cars are going to be around for a while, dealerships are growing, I mean we're growing and we need somebody to fix the cars so why don't you come and be part of the team," said Derrick Pegues, a student and employee of ABRA Auto Body.
Pegues is part of a team of technicians at ABRA Auto Body and Glass, and although he already looks the part Derek is a student learning the auto-tech trade through ABRA's 5-week paid career boot camp.
"I think there are a number of industries that are currently suffering from a shortage of skilled labor," said Mike Willis, Director of Training & Development at ABRA Auto Body. "There are some misperceptions out there that there aren't good career opportunities available to individuals in skilled labor fields."
WIllis says this brand new program is way to help fill the void of skilled auto technicians by spring boarding people into the industry and their company.
"We're focusing on a very small group of skills that our people can take right out to the shops and gradually build their skills and get to that level," said WIllis.
Pegues is one student who heard about the opportunity... and jumped at it.
"The advantage is we have the opportunity now to change lives, we have individuals coming into the program, from day one they are employees of ABRA, 5 weeks of paid training, and guaranteed job placement," said Willis.
ABRA was hoping to get around 50 students to apply to their Career Development Academy, but they ended up with 500 applications.
There is a lot of upside for those who survive the training and get hired as an ABRA auto technician: Last year the average tech made more than $79,000 a year.
Their 2016 classes are filled but they are opening classes now for 2017. For more information on ABRA Auto Body's Career Development Program click here.