DETROIT – BMW of North America is getting a bit patriotic.

The U.S. arm of the German luxury car maker is joining forces with the Lucas Group, a recruiting firm that places military personnel in civilian jobs, to bring former soldiers into the company’s ranks of automotive repair technicians.

Like the rest of the industry, BMW expects a shortage of qualified vehicle service technicians in the next decade as high-tech fields steal talent from the auto service sector.

BMW forecasts that its 340 dealerships in the U.S. will need to hire an additional 7,000 service technicians through 2007, an increase of 75% over the next five years.

The auto maker’s contract with the Lucas Group provides BMW dealers with direct access to candidates whose skills are transferable to the automotive service sector.

Specifically, BMW dealers can tap military personnel with experience in jet engines, pneumatics and hydraulics; as well as tank turret mechanics skilled in both mechanical and electrical schematics, and electronic technicians adept at troubleshooting and diagnostics.

"By partnering with the Lucas Group, we gain access to a network of professionals equipped with the skills and discipline necessary to reach new levels of service excellence," says Lou Provato, manager of after sales development and quality management at BMW of North America. "They can be a real asset for dealers and customers."