TAMPA — The program manager for the automotive tech class at Hillsborough Community College tells ABC Action News he can’t produce enough students to keep up with demand.
So many students want to enroll in the programs the school has a waitlist.
“It seems like I can’t make enough students to supply the demand and it’s been 10 years and it’s even harder now with COVID, our enrollment numbers have to be cut in half for social distancing purposes,” Program Manager Mario Mirabal said.
Because of COVID-19 classes of 70 students were cut in half. Each course is 18-months long so anyone who didn’t enroll in time to get a spot has to wait until the next session starts. Mirabal says once you get enrolled and graduate the payoff is worth it.
“I have dealerships, they are like ‘how many do you have? I need ten right now,’” Mirabal said. “That’s the best feeling. That is what I always say, that’s why I do the job for graduation day. They all go out to work, three months later they show their paycheck or the new car they bought whatever it may be, and that’s always the best feeling.”
Mirabal says they are seeing students of all ages, genders, and walks of life looking for careers as mechanics. Some are skipping the traditional four-year college route and going right into the trade.
“The whole being pushed to college thing, everybody wanting to be doctors and stuff. Nobody wants to work with their hands nobody wants to be dirty, I don’t mind that,” student Charlie Christy said.
Christy is a student in the Heavy-Duty Diesel Technician Program. He said he is working part-time and once he graduates has a full-time job with the same company lined up.
“Once I graduate I can get more money since there’s not many people there. As soon as I graduate you can get in the $45 an hour range,” Christy said.