The WyoTech campus in Laramie is preparing to celebrate the graduation of 208 students who completed a nine month course in automotive and diesel technology and collision and refinishing program on Thursday, June 22.

Seven students will graduate from WyoTech’s Diesel Advanced Technology Education for Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks, or DATE, a program where students earn manufacturer certifications that will allow them to work at Mack Truck and Volvo Truck dealers across the country.

Campus President Caleb Perriton, says the WyoTech graduates will be able to immediately enter the workforce and help fill a skills gap in the country.

“We have technical positions available all throughout the United States,” Perriton said. “These are decent careers that you can raise a family and pay a mortgage on, and there is a desperate shortage in the diesel and auto service industry.”

DATE Program Director Bryan Shuster said currently, there are 22,000 diesel openings across the United States. If you add automotive, he said, the number approaches 50,000 jobs.

“We have 200 graduates, we have 50,000 openings that we can’t fill right now,” Shuster said.

Perriton said many WyoTech graduates have multiple job offers before they even graduate. Cody Bohannon, a military veteran and named “Outstanding Graduate” in his class, is one such student. Bohannon said he was surprised by the number of job offers he received at a recent job fair.

“At our first job fair I had probably 10 to 15 job offers and that was before I even thought about graduation,” Bohannon said.

Bohannon said he decided to take more courses with the DATE program to gain more skills and at the second job fair received 10 more job offers.

Shuster said the DATE program, which was started a few years ago, keeps students abreast with new technology in the diesel and automotive field.

“This class that we teach, we teach a huge amount of diagnostics, on how to work on these trucks,” Shuster said. “These trucks all became electronic in the 1990’s and unless you have a degree or take a huge amount of training, once you start at a dealership, you won’t come close to understanding it.”

Perriton says young people considering their future should consider vocational training along with other options.

“My call to the youth out there is to think about vocation when you’re thinking education,” Perrition said. “We have a poor stereotype in society that working with your hands or working on machinery is for those who can’t do other things. We actually need the brightest minds.”