BLOOMFIELD, NJ — At its Bloomfield campus, Universal Technical Institute gave 16 high school juniors a head start preparing for careers in the transportation industry through “Ignite,” a free summer program for high school juniors interested in exploring high-tech, in-demand careers. Participating students, who completed the coursework this August, received intensive, hands-on training and the opportunity to earn credits toward a UTI program.
“With the economy recovering from the pandemic there’s never been a better time to find employment in transportation and skilled trades,” UTI–Bloomfield President Shawn Alexander said. “The demand for skilled technicians is strong, and there are many opportunities. Through Ignite, high school students earn real-world, on-the-job experience while having doors opened to careers they may never have considered.”
Participants in the three-week Ignite program learned automotive engine basics as they completed courses, which provided an introduction to some of the courses completed by full-time UTI students. The curriculum allows students to explore possible career opportunities in the transportation field, receive hands-on training on today’s state-of-the-industry technologies, and learn from UTI graduates and local employers about the career opportunities that may be available to trained technicians. Participants who complete the Ignite program are eligible to receive credit toward future UTI courses so that they can complete a UTI education and be prepared for a career in the transportation sector more quickly.
UTI launched Ignite nationwide in the summer of 2018 following a successful pilot program at campuses in Avondale, Ariz.; Houston, Texas; and Orlando, Fla. Participation has steadily increased and to-date 937 high school juniors nationwide have received this training at no cost through Ignite; 60 percent of those students have enrolled to come back and attend UTI after they graduate high school.
The Ignite program was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year program participants and instructors followed state-recommended COVID safety protocols. The high schools represented by students at UTI–Bloomfield this summer were Bergen County Christian Academy in Hackensack; Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro; Bogota High School; East Side High School in Newark; Edison High School; Essex County Newark Tech; HARP Academy in Paterson; Metuchen High School; Montclair High School; KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy; Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale; Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Academy in Elizabeth; West Caldwell Tech; and West Essex Regional High School in North Caldwell.
Photos Courtesy of Jerome Montes