He started in his father’s automotive shop at that age and loved the business. He took automotive shop class in high school, and went to college on a full scholarship.
After returning from college, Porcelli joined the U.S. Army, came home and began running his father’s business. He would later earn a master’s degree in business administration and continued to run his family’s shop, which has been in the community for 71 years.
Today, in addition to being a mechanic, Porcelli is an adjunct professor of automotive technology at Bronx Community College. He wants more young people to consider the skilled trades as an alternative to four-year college.
“We’re running out of mechanics rapidly,” he said. “When we run out of mechanics, everything’s going to stop working.
February is Career and Technical Education Month, which is why Porcelli brought up the topic during this month’s community board meeting.
He noted that careers in the skilled trades are usually high-paying jobs. In the automotive industry, most employers pay $1,000 to $3,000 per week to fix cars. They’re also jobs that people can obtain with one to two years of training, Porcelli said.
“I’m not anti college,” he said. “I’m anti people going to the wrong college, studying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
“Half the people in college don’t belong there, they’re not happy there,” Porcelli added. “They might be better off, if they have ability with their hands, learning a skilled trade.”
The key to promoting career and technical education is to get more school systems to encourage students to look into those fields, Porcelli said, especially considering the shortages of mechanics in the country.
“There’s a huge number of jobs out there,” he said.