In Atlanta, BMW has plowed $17 million into a more than 53,000-square-foot center near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The site, which opened this spring, replaced a smaller BMW tech center north of Atlanta.
The $10 million Spartanburg training center is a 35,000-square-foot facility about 1.5 miles from BMW’s largest assembly plant in the world.
The tech training expansion goes beyond preparing for tomorrow’s vehicles. It’s needed to solve today’s challenges.
BMW’s $56 million investment will boost the automaker’s tech training capacity by 50 percent and replenish the pool of 12,000 technicians that support the 348 BMW and 123 Mini dealerships in the U.S.
The industry has long worried about its unmet needs for manufacturing and engineering technicians. But it also faces a shortage of service technicians.
The National Automobile Dealers Association says the retail auto industry needs about 76,000 new technicians every year to fill anticipated job openings. The industry is experiencing an annual shortage of 39,000 trained technicians.
Dealerships typically lose 10 to 15 percent of their technicians annually to retirement and attrition, Eberhart said.
“Every year we need roughly 1,500 new technicians to cater for the turnover, but also the growth we are planning,” he said. “We are planning every year a significant amount of new cars, but we have to take care of almost 5 million units already in operation.”
About 8,500 technicians cycle through one of BMW’s training programs each year. BMW also recruits the next generation of techs though its Service Technician Education Program, a 16-week course for technical school graduates. Since 1997, nearly 5,200 students have completed the program, 95 percent of whom landed jobs at BMW dealerships.