NORTH HAVEN — Construction has started on a new Land Rover dealership and service center at site of the old Munson Motors on northern Washington Avenue, positioning Gateway Community College automotive students for local jobs.
First Selectman Michael Freda called the design of the Land Rover dealership state-of-the-art. The building is “aesthetically pleasing,” he said, but more than that, the jobs that will come with the new business, including service technicians, will be “quality, high paying jobs… utilizing the latest technology.”
Car maintenance use to be more mechanical, oriented to hands-on skills. Service technician positions have evolved out of mechanic jobs to incorporate computer technology.
“These are really technology jobs because they utilize the highest level of car repair technology,” Freda said.
Gateway Community College runs its automotive technology program at the North Haven campus. It graduates approximately 25 students a year, most of whom are hired before they leave school.
Dan Fuller, Gateway professor and chairman of the automotive technology department, said students are taught curriculum approved by manufacturers, including General Motors, Honda Accura and Subaru. Students work paid internships, and many are hired by the shops where they intern, including shops in North Haven.
Fuller said since the introduction of emissions reduction and the rise of fuel economy, technology in vehicles went up substantially. In addition to hands-on skills, technicians also need cognitive skills to diagnose car troubles, hence why we have college-educated technicians, he said.
The two-year degree costs around $10,000, and “the vast majority of students graduate with zero debt,” Fuller said. From earning a livable wage just out of college, experienced technicians in the field can make more than $100,000 a year, he said.