Photo: ASE Education Foundation
Adopt Schol Ase 62308ca597349

Grow your own techs to solve labor issues

April 26, 2022
Trouble finding technicians? Ditch the poach approach and adopt a school.

Looking to hire well-trained, entry-level service technicians? With the ASE Education Foundation’s new Adopt-A-School program, the solution may be right down the street—at the local high school or college.

The Adopt-A-School program not only offers companies a way to show support for their local high school and college training programs but also benefits their businesses by connecting them with the next generation of repair professionals. The Adopt-A-School toolkit consists of detailed plans, ideas, examples, activities, videos, presentation tools, checklists, best practices, talking points, engagement ideas, and so much more. In addition, a local field manager will be in touch to help connect the business with schools in their area.

“The demand for automotive technicians is greater than ever with more baby boomers retiring every day and the industry facing growing competition from other skilled trades for the best young people,” ASE President Mike Coley said. “Instead of trying to hire experienced technicians away from other businesses, the best solution is to grow your own. While it takes time, it allows the business to choose and nurture the technicians who will grow with them and are more likely to stay long term.”

The companies that have already adopted schools are seeing the advantages of these efforts, which have allowed these organizations to be good citizens while also providing them with an avenue to access future employees. For their part, schools get industry partners that provide advice and guidance, demonstrate career opportunities for their students, and provide students with hands-on experience that will grow their skills and encourage them to pursue a fulfilling automotive career.

“Right now, there are students taking automotive and truck training classes at the local high school or college in preparation for entering the workforce,” Coley said. “The good news is that schools are providing students with the fundamental training they need to get started. Through the ASE Education Foundation’s Adopt-A-School program, businesses can connect with local schools and their students, and develop a beneficial partnership for years to come. It is a terrific opportunity all the way around.”

Mutually beneficial advantages

The business-school partnership needs to be a two-way street. Schools want to provide well-trained entry-level technicians, but they need the help and input of businesses to be successful and meet their employment needs. Schools need partners from the industry to provide advice and guidance, demonstrate career opportunities for their students, and help those students get the hands-on experience that will grow their skills and encourage them to stick with an automotive career.

When a business supports a local school’s training program, they not only build the future pipeline of talent for their shops but also can grow community awareness for their business, find candidates for a variety of jobs in their company, and build teamwork and morale.

“There are businesses that hire students while they are still in school. If it is done right, this ‘work-based learning’ reinforces classroom instruction and increases students’ hands-on skills, making graduates more productive from the start,” Coley explained. “Research shows that students who participate in work-based learning are more likely to join the transportation service industry and remain there long term. Supporting local schools can help solve the technician shortage and increase retention.”

Not supporting schools may have an adverse effect. ASE data found that after graduating from high school or a trade school, 20% of students choose not to pursue a career in the trade, and another 21% leave within the first two years of working as a diesel technician. Partnering with schools allows shops to directly mentor students during the education process and proactively address any issues they may have before they quit the trade.

The ultimate goal of the Adopt-A-School program is to bridge the gap between businesses in the transportation industry and the schools in their local communities. This mutually beneficial program enables businesses to provide support to their local schools while simultaneously providing those businesses with access to up-and-coming automotive service professionals entering the work force.

And the commitment can vary based on a shop’s availability.

“Companies can decide the amount of time and money they would like to invest in the Adopt-A-School program,” Coley explained. “They can start working with their local school very simply and grow the partnership as they see the benefits grow. Keep in mind that they are really investing in their business as well as their community. ASE is here to help with a plan and plenty of action steps to take.”

The transportation industry has a shortage of qualified service professionals. The Adopt-A-School program helps the community and industry and allows businesses to hire and train their future employees right from the start.

For more information, visit aseeducationfoundation.org/adoptaschool to access the complete Adopt-A-School toolkit free of charge.

About the Author

George Arrants | Training consultant, K&D Technical Innovations

George Arrants is the vice president for ASE Education Foundation. Arrants works with instructors and administrators to develop partnerships with local businesses and industries through program advisory committees. He is the past chair of the Technology and Maintenance Council’s TMCSuperTech, the National Technician Skills Competition, and TMCFutureTech, the National Student Technician Competition. His entire career has been in the automotive service and education industries.

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