Publisher's Statement - June 2019
An industry starved for new talent has talent starved for funding
I had the honor and privilege to be a scholarship reviewer this spring for the University of the Aftermarket Foundation in a year that saw a 50-percent increase in applicants from 2018. More than 850 applications were received to contend for more than $500,000 in total scholarship awards, up 10 percent from last year — great news, but as I reviewed applicants’ essays, qualifications and life stories, it wasn’t long before I realized more donations are needed.
Those seeking monies represent a spectrum of profiles — from high school and post-secondary students to folks who have returned to school after experiencing odysseys in life, ever-determined to fulfill career goals.
They work full-time jobs while taking on full course loads, contribute to their communities through church activities and donate time to charities and good causes. Many are saddled with student debt and seek to further fund their continuing education to follow their career dreams.
In many cases, applicants’ stories are old and familiar ones that span generations:
“All my life I have been good at fixing things. When I was little, I would fix RC cars, fishing reels, vacuum cleaners — I enjoyed solving mechanical problems. As I got older, I found out that I am good at fixing cars and I enjoyed the challenge of always having a different mechanical problem to solve.”
There is unmistakable drive, career focus and targeted goals among applicants I reviewed, leaving no doubt that the next generation is brimming with tomorrow’s new talent and leadership:
“I have been involved in leadership opportunities through participation in SkillsUSA student government, the Automotive Technology Occupational Advisory Committee, and I currently serve as the Auto Tech Student President. This scholarship will enable me to reach my career goal of becoming a certified Ford technician.”
Not a few applicants have faced challenging home and financial situations, yet are determined to follow their passion into the aftermarket field:
“I have known hunger, divorce, homelessness, fear, and all things associated with poverty. The return on the investment will benefit so many and I will be grateful.”
The entrepreneurial spirit is also alive and well:
“I work full time at a new shop, side jobs in the evenings and weekends as well as maintaining an almost 4.0 GPA as a full-time student. Any additional income is a sheer blessing at this point in my life. I am saving all of my side job money as capital towards my future business — my own shop.”
In an industry that is starved for new talent, there is irony. The talent, in many cases, is here, ready to take the next steps, but are starved for support and funding.
To make a donation, visit www.uofafoundation.com.