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Let’s Talk: Bringing Industry and High Schools Together

If you’re a car lover, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas offers an attendee experience like no other trade show on the planet. It’s the best place to see thousands of the newest automotive performance products from new and iconic exhibitors, discover the latest product and vehicle trends, and develop essential skills by attending more than 70 education sessions – all of which are led by top industry professionals.

Vehicle on the floor at SEMA

Key findings from SEMA’s “State of the Industry Fall 2022 Report” detailed that the automotive specialty-equipment industry’s record-high sales growth over the past two years is beginning to level off. Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, supply-chain issues and rising costs, companies continue to be optimistic as sales remain solid and above pre-pandemic levels.

On the technician side of the automotive industry, the shortage has been underway for some time. TechForce Foundation’s recent “2022 Technician Supply & Demand Report” highlighted the continuing trend seen in the inadequate supply of graduates from post-secondary programs in automotive, diesel and collision technology, including a significant drop in completions of 11.8% in just one year. If there is ever a need for public high schools to step in and offer courses and training in automotive tech and repair, now is the time.

Also this month, prizewinning teachers, Bob Kilmer from Washington state and Dave Huffman from Mississippi, attended the American General Contractors (AGC) Summit in Phoenix. The Summit is designed to bring leaders in construction and workforce development together to find solutions to chronic worker shortages in the industry.

Dave Huffman prepared to present at AGC

Kilmer and Huffman were invited to present about their careers teaching high school construction classes and share the work of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools to advance skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. It was a unique opportunity to network with construction and workforce development professionals to learn about successful programs that are helping recruit, develop, and retain high-quality construction professionals.