The SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program aims to introduce high-school students to the automotive customization hobby and lifestyle through real-world, hands-on educational experiences. This year, five high-school auto-shop programs across the United States participated in the program. The schools customized five ’96–’06 model-year Jeep Wrangler TJs during their spring semesters with the help of aftermarket industry companies that sponsored the builds through product donations and scheduled visits.
Among SEMA’s chief goals as a trade association is working to ensure the industry’s future, in part by expanding youth engagement programs. The goal is to interest young talent in car culture, and ultimately to fill a variety of emerging technological, skilled, creative and administrative positions. A number of those efforts also involve collaborating on initiatives conceived and operated by outside organizations, with SEMA serving as a catalyst.
SEMA’s education team has a new initiative to connect automotive aftermarket companies with higher-education institutions. Through this grassroots approach to reaching students who are beginning to look for careers, SEMA aims to introduce the vast number of job functions available in the automotive aftermarket industry. There are a number of opportunities for companies to have a presence in their local schools and communities through SEMA by participating in career fairs, holding student interview days on campus, hosting students for a facility tour or giving a presentation in a classroom setting.
The SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded a total of $168,000 to 61 individuals this year. That includes 50 SEMA scholarships presented to current students and 11 loan-forgiveness awards to employees of SEMA-member companies.