ORLANDO, Fla. — During the final afternoon of the 2015 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, industry educational leaders highlighted the current shortage of marine technicians, calling upon the entire industry to help recruit the workforce’s next generation of students.
“The [Marine Retailers Association of the Americas] Educational Foundation has awarded $3,000 technical scholarships to marine schools to train students for careers in the boating business,” Ed Lofgren, president of the association’s educational foundation, told a state-of-the-industry luncheon audience on Wednesday.
“The scholarship funds allow tech students to complete their education and go on to jobs in the marine services. These types of partnerships between marine technical schools and the industry are critical if we are to prevent the tech shortage from becoming what could be a tech crisis. Some of us believe we are right on the precipice of that crisis already.”
The industry needs to pull together “to drive more students to enter and graduate from these programs so we can fill the empty spots that are available in service shops like yours — and the faster our industry can grow as a result,” said Lofgren.
He went on to present scholarship awards. The first went to a repair technician program that has been graduating technicians for 23 years, with 11 to 20 graduates each year — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
“What I really need to do is fill my empty spots so I can graduate more technicians each year, so please find someone interested in the marine field and send them to a technical school,” Todd Larson, an instructor at the school, told the crowd. He accepted the scholarship on behalf of the college.
“It doesn’t need to be mine. I know all the technical schools are trying to find and educate good marine technicians.”
The other MRAA scholarship went to the Landing School in Maine. Barry Acker, director of development and industry affairs for the school, accepted. He echoed what Larson said.
“If you know someone with a passion for boating or who loves to be around boats, let us know,” he said. “This scholarship makes it possible for a student to come and spend a year or more with us. We have students, even after federal financial aid, who simply cannot close that final gap to cover the cost.”
Two American Boat & Yacht Council scholarships were handed out.
The Basic Scholarship went to Justin Amstead of Austin Boats and Motors in Texas; the Advanced Scholarship was awarded to Justin Ledford of Cleveland Boat Center in Cleveland, Tenn.
Trade Only will publish the names of all award winners as they become available.