Publisher's Statement - August 2017

Time has come to develop structure to attract, train, and retain the next generation of talent

There is a growing consensus that the industry needs to improve how it attracts and develops talent, especially as it regards service technicians.

For several years, we have followed the inception and development of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) Education Committee. The committee has been insightful, realistic, and compelling in regard to their mission to identify and implement programs that will provide the structure and standards needed to achieve service-readiness for the service technicians entering into the industry. 

NASTF Chair Mark Saxonberg recently moderated the feature discussion during the NASTF Spring 2017 General Meeting entitled “Building a Road to Great Technicians.” He said standards and a structure to develop young talent are needed, which will subsequently offer new progressions in training.

Notable participants in the committee included Rob Morrell, training director for WORLDPAC and NASTF Education Committee Independent co-chair; Jill Saunders, Engine Tech Info & Diagnostics, Toyota Motor Sales; Trish Serratore, president of National Automotive Technician’s Education (NATEF); and Chris Chesney, senior director Customer Training at Advance Auto Parts. 

Because people enter the industry without a clear understanding of the opportunities available, having a limited career plan, at best, the industry does not attract the talent.  When young folks come into the industry, they should be provided a road map of different opportunities in the aftermarket, Saxonberg said. 

“If students understand what careers are available and we can show them a path with each step along the way, then we’ll attract higher-level talent,” Morrell said.

NASTF suggests the aftermarket emulate OEM technician development models by leveraging existing resources including existing AYES schools and current OE partner post-secondary institutions. NATEF provides a base standard for what a college automotive program should deliver to produce an individual ready for an entry-level position. 

Of the many post-secondary schools teaching automotive technology, about 600 are NATEF-accredited, Serratore said.  “That’s the minimum standard, but it might not be everything the industry needs – the schools don’t know until the industry tells them.” Industry involvement will help reinvigorate at-risk automotive programs, instructor involvement and retention, and school administrative support.

Chesney said the aftermarket needs added effort in assisting shop owners with internships, becoming involved with local school advisory councils, and challenging instructors to meet their needs.

“We don’t need more programs,” Morrell said, “we need more funding for existing programs so they’re better understood throughout the industry and to develop standards for different levels of training.”

While emulating OEM training programs would benefit the aftermarket, there are enormous challenges, said Rick Lester, manager of Toyota’s T-Ten (Technician Education Network) program. “New standards would have to be adopted; specifically the aftermarket’s funding streams and how they’re structured.”

The blueprint is ready: outline career paths, leverage existing training programs, raise the entry-level bar of acceptance, involve the industry in automotive programs, and obtain industry funding to develop an aftermarket program to equal the OEM support for training programs in order to be service ready for the 21st century.

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.