NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This weekend, students from 25 different high schools across Texas went head-to-head at the North Texas Automobile Dealer’s 2nd Annual Auto Tech Competition at Texas Motor Speedway.

The event joins together local educators and dealerships to help engage students in the auto-tech industry. Organizers said it is crucial to get the younger generations educated and interested in the business.

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“There is a desperate need in our industry for 76,000 technicians across the United States,” explained Nick Huff, a service center manager at one North Texas GMC.

Franchised dealers in North Texas currently employ nearly 30,000 people, but NTXAD said many of them are nearing retirement.

“We have a lot of need to backfill to, bring up technicians, to grow our business for what is coming in the future,” said Huff.

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On top of that, the industry itself is shifting. Vehicles nowadays are high-tech, so the mechanics that work on them have to be highly skilled in what is now a technology-focused career.

Huff said “There has definitely been a transition from a blue-collar job to a white-collar job, because of the technology we have in these vehicles and the type of technician we need moving forward.”

Organizers were also hoping to show students what a rewarding career option auto-tech can be. NTXAD says well-trained vehicle technicians can earn top incomes, without ever having to enroll in a traditional college program.

“Trade schools and things in this industry can benefit students and benefit them to where they can get into a career path, where they can begin making money and making a living for themselves,” explained Huff.

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NTXAD said the event wasn’t just a fun way for students to up their skills, but also about getting students on a career path. Winners of the two-phase competition were awarded scholarships and their own sets of tools to help jump-start their jobs in auto-tech.

Madison Sawyer