Nonprofit Profile: NJ CAR, helping auto dealers adopt apprenticeship model to train techs


The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, founded in 1918, is a nonprofit organization serving approximately 510 neighborhood new car and truck dealerships throughout New Jersey. NJ CAR promotes the principles of commercial honor and integrity in the selling, leasing and servicing of motor vehicles. NJ CAR keeps its members informed on a variety of business matters, practices, trends and legislation. 

Rob Sickel

NJ CAR is a 100-year-old organization that is modernizing its image to meet the demands of its members, their employees, legislators, the media and the car-buying public. This month, NJ CAR announced its new chairman, Rob Sickel and launched a new website that will serve as a valuable and informative resource for the franchised auto retailing industry and New Jersey consumers. 


The Automotive Technician Apprenticeship Program (ATAP)’s mission is to promote the benefits of a career in automotive technology, as well as help dealerships recruit, train and retain the next generation of automotive technicians by providing job-specific classroom instruction through local county vocational schools and on-the-job training at neighborhood new car and truck dealerships.


NJ CAR is working to address a critical shortage of 12,500 highly skilled automotive technicians in New Jersey over the next seven years by launching ATAP. NJ CAR is also working to change the perception of a career in automotive repair. Today’s auto tech jobs are more “tech” than “auto,” with technicians spending as much time on a laptop, diagnosing a problem, as they do under the hood or chassis of a vehicle.


Apprenticeships are traditionally used to train future electricians or plumbers, and now the automotive retail industry is adopting a similar model. NJ CAR is determined to become part of the solution with ATAP and is working with local new car and truck dealerships to provide a pipeline of apprentices or assist them in creating their own in-house apprenticeship programs. Through the GAINS grant, NJ CAR covers the apprentice’s tuition for training and reimburses dealers for on-the-job training and mentoring expenses. Students are recruited from high school technical training programs, county vocational programs, local communities, veteran associations, as well as existing dealership personnel.


ATAP will enroll at least 150 apprentices in its first year at a minimum wage of $15 per hour. In addition, ATAP is working with New Jersey Reentry Corp. to help individuals coming out of prison reenter the workforce. NJ CAR recently hosted Apprenticeship Recognition Day, where it honored the first 40 apprentices to participate in the program.


Earlier this year, NJ CAR was awarded $907,000 though a GAINS (Growing Apprenticeships in Non-traditional Sectors) grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which helped the Coalition launch ATAP. 


Jim Appleton, president of NJ CAR.

A quote from Jim Appleton, above, president of NJ CAR: “The demand for skilled automotive technicians is at an all-time high in New Jersey. New Jersey alone will need to fill as many as 12,500 auto tech positions in the next seven years, as demand grows, and technicians retire from the workforce. These are highly-skilled, good-paying, local jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

In Brief

Location: 856 River Road, Trenton

Conversation Starter

For more information about becoming an ATAP mentor or apprentice, contact Breanna Esquilin at, or visit
NJ CAR’s new website at