ACtion Magazine - June 2016 - (Page 6)
Back to school
ACS has been committed for many years to supporting the institutions and instructors
who educate future generations of automotive technicians who will ensure these motorists can continue to safely enjoy the mobility that enriches our lives.
Rad Air got involved to provide hands-on experiences and educational opportunities to the
show's Career Day attendees and to the general public.
Fortunately for MACS, we're actively engaged with dedicated instructors all over the U.S.
who help us understand the challenges involved in educating and nurturing tomorrow's technicians. We recently reached out to some of those instructors and asked for their insight, and while
we're still in the process of collecting information, which we hope to synthesize into a more
formal report in the future, I am happy to share some of the initial feedback we have received.
We asked how today's students in automotive programs compared to those taught in the past.
One response was: "They're much harder to teach. They believe everything can be googled and
they have very little mechanical aptitude."
That sentiment was echoed by another
who observed: "Students seem to come
This industry is going
into the program with a lack of soft skills
to continue to chase
(time management, social interaction, etc.)
and lack in mechanical aptitude." Another
away good people...
instructor responded, "The older students
and those brought up on ranches already
know how to work and study. Those with
no skin in the game could use an enlistment in the military to learn discipline...young students are
impatient and disrespectful. They don't seem to care." While these comments are gleaned from
a very small sample, they suggest that we should be more appreciative and supportive of today's
Speaking of being supportive, we note these comments by instructors: "Being a small town
community college, funding is scarce. We need new technology mobile HVAC equipment and
later model vehicles to train on." From another: "There also has to be better support of tools,
equipment, and training for educators. There used to be big support in these areas (but) I have seen
this go down over my 25 years."
It should be a surprise to no one that technician pay is a significant issue. For example, here
is one observation from an instructor: "When I started in this business in the early '80s, I was
making $9 an hour as an entry-level tech in an independent repair shop. My students starting at
dealerships are getting paid $10 an hour today?! How in the world can a business complain that
they can't find or keep a qualified employee when they refuse to pay them a decent wage? This
industry is going to continue to chase away good people because it is becoming increasingly
impossible to make a decent living. Invest in your employees with proper pay, proper training and
proper benefits and they won't run out the door looking for the next best opportunity!"
How should an independent business interface with schools? One response: "They should
be doing everything they can to align themselves with the local technical schools. Join advisory
committees, offer to help with fundraising or school functions. It's pretty obvious from my current
teaching job that qualified technicians are extremely hard to come by."
Sobering food for thought? You bet. I personally thank these instructors for their candor and
the good work they do every day. ❆
ACTION * June 2016
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