Dealerships need a plan to convert students to mechanics

We are hearing a lot about the number of unfinished jobs in the automotive profession. But as a high school vocational teacher — collision repair, specifically — I see a major issue.

There is a gap between the high school exit door and the dealership entrance. In other words, children drop out of the high school program, and there is no continuity on how to enter the workforce.

I know it sounds bad, like high school doesn’t prepare them. But I’m talking, how do you get a job and move on? How do you get to that final game? It’s all situational, and it’s all attitude. A child entering the profession has to prove his ability to speak. There is no written plan.

My program is very structured. The Body Shop business wants a student who is trained and has a strong work ethic. I get 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds in my program. And even an 18-year-old can work on creating a strong work ethic.

They leave programs like mine and go to a place whose structure is not good. As a result, younger kids have to come in and shove a broom to see if the shop likes them—even though they’ve gone through my schedule and I’ve given them several tasks.

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