Automotive aftermarket companies need to work more closely with local schools as part of a strategy to attract more technicians into the field, urged a leader from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
A challenge for schools is they don’t know the full picture of what employers are looking for, according to Mike Coley, president of the ASE Education Foundation.
“One of the challenges that the local schools have, and I think this is true everywhere, is they need input and support from local employers — the dealers, the independent shops, the fleet shops — to come in and help them understand: What are the skills that are most critical for an entry-level student to have so they can come in?” he said in an interview.
Furthermore, schools can’t have outdated equipment to train students. They need today’s tools to teach about today’s technology. Students need to be up to date on technology and service practices shops are currently using.
“The best way — really, the only way — for that to happen is to have that local advisory committee made up of local employers to come in and tell the school, ‘We want you to teach more of this. We want you to teach less of this. Your wheel balancer, does it do road force? That’s what all of our customers are expecting,’” Coley said.
The aftermarket needs to help schools update their technology because there’s no point in them training students in areas or with tools that don’t apply in the real world.
“And if you’re teaching on an old piece of equipment, your students [will] come [into the workforce] and they don’t know how to do these new procedures,” Coley explained. “That doesn’t benefit me, it doesn’t benefit the student, it doesn’t benefit the customer. Just like the technology in the cars and the business is changing all the time, the instructors need to keep up and the programs need to keep up. And the best source of that knowledge is those local employers.”