Delaware Technical Community College received a $1.97 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The grant will support the construction of a 13,500 square foot Automotive Center of Excellence on the college’s campus in Georgetown. This facility, along with Delaware Tech ’s new training center in Middletown, will house the first diesel mechanic training program in the region.
The centerwill double the number of automotive technicians trained at Delaware Tech in Georgetown each year from 20 to 40 and will allow the college to train up to 15 diesel mechanics per year.
Many industries in the region rely on automotive technicians and diesel mechanics including agriculture, fisheries, car dealerships and other automotive service providers, and construction.
A Burning Glass search in April 2018 showed 180 job postings over the past year for automotive technicians and 126 job postings for diesel mechanics in the Delmarva region.
Employers report high turnover due to competition for skilled workers, difficulty retaining workers recruited from out of state, and high costs associated with sending unskilled workers to other states for training.
Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Tech said, “Our mission is to respond to workforce needs in this state. There is a dire need for diesel mechanics, and this training facility will help us fill those jobs with Delawareans. I want to thank Senator (Tom) Carper for his diligent and tireless work to help us secure this grant, and I also want to thank the generous local donors who stepped up to support this initiative.”
The total cost to build the ACOE is $3 million, and the grant covers 65 percent of the construction. The following organizations and individuals have pledged donations that enabled the College to secure the 35 percent match:
- The State of Delaware
- Sussex County Council
- Floyd A. Megee Motor Company
- g. Burton & Company
- Preston Auto Group
- USDA – Rural Development
- Winner Automotive Group
- Carman Auto Group
- First State Chevrolet
- Willis Ford
- Chevrolet of Dover
- Matt Slap Subaru
- The Volvo Group
- AutoTeam Delaware
- Bumpers and Company
- Matt Kehoe
- Meineke of Lewes
- Nancy Jo and William Pepper
- Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers’ Association
Labor market data indicate that more than 3,000 automotive technicians and more than 800 diesel mechanics are employed across Delmarva with average annual earnings of $39,874 and $44,595, respectively.
Over the next ten years, the region is projected to have 3,278 openings for automotive technicians. Nine hundred forty-eight job openings are expected for diesel mechanics in the same period due to retirements, job turnover and a 17 percent growth rate.
“Sussex County is proud to be a partner on this journey to make the Automotive Center of Excellence a reality for Delaware Tech and for those looking for a rewarding career in the automotive industry,” said Sussex County Economic Development Director William Pfaff.“Today’s automotive industry is so technologically advanced, and miles beyond what many of us remember when it came to the maintenance needs of the cars and trucks of our parents and grandparents. This program will help to ensure Sussex County has the most qualified, well-trained workforce possible in the automotive field of today and beyond.”