Key players at the Jan. 15 planning meeting of the Automotive Industry & Education Roundtable in April were, from left, Walt Commans of ASE, Margaret Ragan of NATA, and Dave Burnett of ASA Northwest.

Automotive Industry & Education Roundtable set for April 27

Industry professionals, educators, students, and parents to gather for automotive career roundtable

Portland, Ore.-Since mid-2018, a small group of industry and education professionals have been planning what has been described as a ground-breaking roundtable event that may alter how the industry markets itself to prospective students who show interest in automotive-related careers. At a planning session in Portland, Ore., Jan. 15, details and event organization were formalized by shop owners, educators, and trade association representatives for the Saturday, April 27, event at the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville, Ore.

First proposed by Walt Commans, ASE Western States consultant and ASE Education Foundation manager, the idea was endorsed by the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA) and ASA Northwest (ASA-NW), as well as shop owners and educators in Oregon and Washington. He attended the Jan. 15 meeting to express support from ASE, trade groups, high school and college level instructors, and industry professionals after extensive discussions with each segment about the roundtable. 

In lieu of a typical career fair, the event will bring together industry professionals from service, repair, parts, collision, and dismantling segments, as well as secondary students, secondary and post-secondary automotive instructors, school counselors and administrators, and others to a roundtable discussion regarding career opportunities in the automotive industry. Members from NATA and ASA-NW will make presentations about their businesses and what the advantages are for those who desire to follow an educational path into the automotive field.

“All participants at this event will be provided contact information to help them develop their own network,” said Margaret Ragan, outreach specialist for NATA. And a key goal of the event, she added, is that counselors and educators will learn about the needs and opportunities in various segments of the industry. “NATA would like to facilitate this as an annual event to keep the communication between industry and education alive, so we will be developing a regional advisory committee to assist with that effort.”

Dave Burnett, West-regional membership specialist for ASA-NW, said his top goal as a result of the event would be “to open the eyes of parents that a career in the automotive field is a good choice - a great job with excellent pay. We need to create that communication portal from shop owners to educators to help students get a first-class education based on what shop owners and the industry are looking for.”

Commans, who began facilitating roundtables in Southern California years ago, advanced the concept last year by adding the educator/industry element. “My goal with the Northwest roundtable would be greater communication between schools and the aftermarket, shops serving on advisory councils and providing assistance to training programs, thus having better access to top students.”

The April event will feature industry representatives from shops across the Northwest who will relate their views on the industry and the value of careers in the automotive arena. Commans will serve as moderator.

For further information, contact Ragan at NATA, 503-253-9898.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.