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Expanding access to automotive careers in South Carolina

Feb 08, 2024

Two students working on an automobile

Your mechanic probably makes a lot of money, and for good reason. Auto techs in South Carolina are not only valuable, but they are also rare. When your car breaks down, you’re glad your local shop is paying skilled technicians to fix your vehicle in a timely manner. Mechanics fill that very critical role in our local economy, but for some reason, young people are not gravitating to that career in sufficient numbers. The South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association (SCADA) and Midlands Technical College (MTC) are working to fix that.

Last year, SCADA came to MTC to share information about their South Carolina Auto Tech Development Program, and from there, a fruitful partnership developed. This program doesn’t just provide scholarship funding for students, it also provides job placement. It also comes with a free set of tools worth almost $10,000. MTC students jumped all over this opportunity. As of January 2024, eight MTC students are working in local dealerships as apprentices through SCADA. There are several more who will likely be placed in the coming weeks. 

These students now have the opportunity to learn both in classrooms at MTC as well as in the real world in their respective dealerships. That combined approach speeds up the learning curve and creates a better experience for everyone involved. It also doesn’t hurt that the apprentices are working in paid positions and earning a paycheck. And upon graduation, they will be able to earn extremely competitive wages, with many techs earning six figures plus with just a few years of experience.

As proud as we are of the results so far, this partnership needs to continue to grow. As a state, SC currently has more than 1,400 job openings for automotive technicians according to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). SCDEW projects that number to remain in that range for at least the next six years. If we don’t fix that talent gap, we will all pay the price both in terms of repair costs and extended repair times. 

So what do we do next? Spread the word. Tell your kids, your friends, and your neighbors. We need everyone to know that this opportunity exists and is easy to access. Through SCADA and MTC’s partnership, students can get the education they need and be placed into great jobs right now. That first job puts them on a career ladder with endless potential to become service managers in a dealership or even run their own shop.

Headshot of Jeremy Catoe, business solutions director at Midlands Technical College.Jeremy Catoe is MTC’s Lead Business Solution Director. You can reach him via email at Or, visit the to learn more about MTC’s Automotive Technology program or the South Carolina Auto Tech Development Program for details about the scholar program.

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