It is a known fact there is a severe shortage of future next-generation service technicians facing auto dealerships around the country. Volkswagen is well-aware of the need to foster growth in the service bay and is now doing its part to keep the workforce flush for generations to come.
To this end, Volkswagen understands the critical need to have vehicles in the hands of students at vocational and technical schools. This way, these apprentice-level next-generation service technicians can take advantage of the latest automotive hardware and technologies to stay ahead of the learning and repair curve.
GIFT GIVING IN THE SPRINGTIME
Beginning in the Spring, Volkswagen will donate 31 Volkswagen Atlas SUVs and modern diagnostics equipment to deserving high school automotive technician programs, career centers and technical schools at various points across the country.
This is being done by Volkswagen to address the growing need for trained automotive technicians who are software savvy and technically adept, too. As sophisticated as modern vehicles are today, these skills are more in-demand than ever before. Simply learning the nuts and bolts of automotive repair no longer suffices.
“There is a national shortage of technicians, and it’s expected to grow as many technicians are, or are very close to, retirement age. We have to start looking for avenues to backfill these individuals,” says Jon Meredith, Volkswagen national service operations manager. According to a recent article in Automotive News’ Fixed Ops Journal, today’s crop of service technicians are aging out, and there needs to be a new class of technicians to take their place.
TECHNICIANS AGING OUT
Government estimates say that more than 770,000 people work as automotive technicians in the U.S. It’s a steady number but as boomer technicians “age out,” there will need to be tens of thousands of new techs per year to maintain current openings. That, according to officials, is a demand that is greater than what the current trade schools can currently supply.
“As an industry, we need to come up with different ways of thinking and doing to attract young people to this industry,” Meredith added. As a vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen sees tremendous value in partnering with dealers and the technical and trade schools in their markets to bring both the Volkswagen product and diagnostic equipment to the younger generation considering a career in the automotive industry.
Other entities including those in government also are getting involved. The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR) has combined with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to secure almost $1-million through their Growing Apprenticeship in Non-traditional Sector (GAINS) grants. By showing up at trade school job fairs, NJCAR and Volkswagen are both able to “Grab them while they’re young.”
THE HIGHEST TECH
Volkswagen is donating its ODIS software, which is used to diagnose and update vehicles. This software, which would have to be purchased directly from Volkswagen under the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act, is generally out of reach of many programs. Schools that are selected will also collaborate with local VW dealerships to provide supplemental assistance and instruction on the donated equipment.
THIS IS WHERE THE INDUSTRY IS HEADING
Darin Lewis teaches automotive repair at Ohio’s Medina County Career Center. He says the Volkswagen Atlas and the ODIS software will be the newest vehicle in his school’s training fleet by a decade. “It goes far beyond donating a physical car. To have something that’s the latest and greatest out there – and to be able to show students, ‘This is where the industry is headed’ – is important,” said Lewis.
It goes even further: Technology is advancing so quickly, that it’s hard to justify teaching how to rebuild a carburetor or transmission. In today’s rapidly changing world, most vehicles have gone on to fuel injection and transmission replacement. Napleton Volkswagen service technicians will always be using the latest in Volkswagen equipment and service protocols.