San Diego native Gumecindo “Cindo” Ledesma thought he’d go into construction like his father, but in his last year of high school Cindo’s true calling was discovered in shop class, tinkering around with old autos. He moved on to work in a local body shop after high school, later trading that in to focus on his goal - working towards a technician title at Brecht BMW in San Diego.
A first generation Mexican-American, Cindo is one of 13 aspiring BMW automotive service technicians of Hispanic decent in Southern California who are participating in the new MetroSTEP program a 20-week technician training program developed by BMW, working closely with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation. A similar initiative is taking place in South Florida.
The goal of the program is to open up career opportunities in the auto industry for area Latinos, while at the same time addressing the industry shortage of skilled automotive technicians.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 35,000 new technicians will be needed nationwide each year through 2010. A new survey by the trade organization Automotive Retailing Today reveals a current shortage of more than 5,000 automotive service professionals in the Pacific region alone.
“Many people don’t realize that careers in the automotive industry can be very rewarding. BMW STEP graduates with some experience can make $55,000, and with further accreditation, they can earn up to six figures in major markets,” says BMW Regional Aftersales Manager Ed Huzyak. “The training that we offer in the MetroSTEP program is an excellent stepping toward a successful career.”
That training includes intensive instruction that alternates between classroom sessions and dealer in-service at two-week intervals.
Cindo, a father and husband-to-be hopes this new endeavor will help to provide a better life for him and his family. “This is a great opportunity for all of us for a future career. BMW teaches us what to look for and what to expect.”