BMW of North America has joined other companies working to combat the tech shortage with a plan to expand its dealership service technician training programs in the U.S.
Currently, BMW dealerships in the U.S. are seeking more than 1,500 technicians annually. Denise Melville, department head at BMW Group University, told media the automaker plans to increase the number of trained technicians by 60% by 2020, increasing its annual technician training center graduates to about 800.
BMW University operates 14 locations in the U.S., with six of those being company-owned locations. BMW-owned training centers are located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey; Ontario, California; Oxnard, California; Schaumburg, Illinois; Atlanta; and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
As part of BMW’s plan to train more technicians, the automaker said it will increase the size of its BMW-owned training facilities.
Melville told media that BMW plans to build a new Atlanta campus that will increase its training space to 12 classrooms. Additionally, the Ontario, California, training center will be renovated to add 12 classrooms and a collision/auto body shop, and the Woodcliff Lake and Spartanburg locations will add a new training area and building, respectively. According to media reports, the Ontario expansion will double the company’s annual Service Technician Education Program graduating classes to six. BMW is also adding training space at its New Jersey center, and a new building at the Spartanburg training facility.
In addition to its training centers, BMW’s six-month apprenticeship program, geared toward community college auto service technician graduates, will also be expanded.
BMW’s STEP certification program is also offered at the Military STEP center at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California (United Technical Institute); two UTI campuses in Avondale, Colorado, and Orlando, Florida; Lincoln Technical Institute in Grand Prairie, Texas; and Ohio Technical College in Cleveland, Ohio. Associate degree programs with modified STEP curriculum is offered at Chabot Community College in Hayward, California; Mass Bay Community College in Boston; and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.