Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, Ga., is offering a new program, Marine Engine Technology, to prepare students to become entry-level marine service technicians. It will start this fall and can accommodate 20 students.
“Our goal is workforce development and to help our students in Georgia become successful,” Christian Tetzlaff, dean of the applied technology division at Lanier Tech, told Trade Only Today yesterday.
Gainesville is in Hall County, which is near Atlanta. The school is named for the largest local body of water, Lake Lanier. Boating and tourism on the water are a big source of economic activity for the area.
Previously, NG Technical College in Clarksville, Ga., had offered a similar course, but the school is well north of Gainesville and didn’t have the local industry to support it.
“We’re picking up that ball and our service area will suit the program,” said Tetzlaff. The diploma program will take about 18 months to complete and the school is in the hiring process for instructors. The curriculum will be made up of materials from other courses that had been offered in the technical colleges of the Georgia system, but will be updated with current information.
Tetzlaff said that local dealers are already voicing support for the program and that Yamaha Marine, whose U.S. headquarters are in nearby Kennesaw, Ga., is as well. “We are partnering with them and we’d like to find other partners. The industry has been very supportive,” he said. “The dealers in our area don’t have enough technicians to service their boats.”
“It’s desperately needed,” said Brent Danneman, vice president of sales at the Gainesville location of Park Marine Boating Centers in an article on the Gainesville Times website. “There is a tremendous shortage of marine technicians.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, technicians who work on powerboats and other outdoor power equipment earn an average of $38,000 per year in Georgia. According to the article, in May 2017, there were 730 boat mechanics and technicians in the state with the heaviest concentration in the Lake Lanier, Lake Burton and Lake Allatoona areas.
Tetzlaff said that in-state students with a 2.0 grade-point average from high school would have most of the in-state tuition costs of approximately $4,000 to $6,000 covered. Out-of-state tuition would be double that cost.
He said that the first goal is to get the word out about the course and that when students hear about the opportunity, the response has been positive. “The energy, the desire from the industry and the students are passionate about the ability to work in the industry,” said Tetzlaff. “They want to work on boats and become leaders in the industry.”