SUNY Erie's Automotive Technology program is set to expand its Orchard Park training facility in order to meet the rising industry demand for automotive repair workers.
The two year Associate in Applied Science degree had approximately 200 students enrolled in the 2018-2019 school year, which is about 20 per cent more than it had four years ago, according to instructor Mike Coughlin.
But they expect to increase that number even more over the next few years.
"We're hearing we need more students," Coughlin said.
Coughlin says industry partners, including car dealerships and companies that utilize fleets of vehicles, are unable to hire enough automobile mechanics and technicians.
SUNY Erie is now working with those industry partners to look at ways it can modify its automotive tech programming so that it can turn out more students at a faster pace, while still ensuring they are properly trained and hold ASE Certifications by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
"It's constantly changing... we're coming into self-driving cars. So we're trying to stay with that curve with industry partners," Coughlin said.
SUNY Erie officials say it is too soon to discuss specifics about exactly what modifications they're looking to make to programmatic offerings.