Iowa faces more than a shortage of just teachers. We’ll also see an auto-mechanic shortage in a few years, according to Daren Van Helden, spokesman for Triple-A Iowa. In hopes of luring more young people to the field, the auto club is sponsoring a statewide contest today in Des Moines.The Iowa Auto Repair Championship features ten two-person teams of high school students from nine Iowa cities. Each team will be given 90 minutes to diagnose and repair deliberately fouled-up vehicles. Van Helden says each vehicle will have ten identical “bugs”.Students taking part in today’s competition are from: Bedford, Davenport, Des Moines (2 teams), Dubuque, Iowa City, LeMars, Manchester, Perry and Waukon. The winners in today’s contest go on to a national competition, for scholarships and prizes. Van Helden says Iowa and the U-S need to train more mechanics. He says there are currently about 800-thousand trained auto mechanics nationwide.In the next decade, 300-thousand will retire. Van Helden says automotive technicians rely more on brainpower than muscle power. He says many of them can command salaries between 35- and 75-thousand out of a technical school. He says 85-percent of the functions on a new car are controlled by computers.
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