MACS has been committed for many years to supporting the institutions and instructors who educate future generations of automotive technicians who will ensure these motorists can continue to safely enjoy the mobility that enriches our lives.
Fortunately for MACS, we’re actively engaged with dedicated instructors all over the U.S. who help us understand the challenges involved in educating and nurturing tomorrow’s technicians. We recently reached out to some of those instructors and asked for their insight, and while we’re still in the process of collecting information, which we hope to synthesize into a more formal report in the future, I am happy to share some of the initial feedback we have received.
We asked how today’s students in automotive programs compared to those taught in the past. One response was: “They’re much harder to teach. They believe everything can be googled and they have very little mechanical aptitude.” That sentiment was echoed by another who observed: “Students seem to come into the program with a lack of soft skills (time management, social interaction, etc.) and lack in mechanical aptitude.” Another instructor responded, “The older students and those brought up on ranches already know how to work and study. Those with no skin in the game could use an enlistment in the military to learn discipline…young students are impatient and disrespectful. They don’t seem to care.” While these comments are gleaned from a very small sample, they suggest that we should be more appreciative and supportive of today’s educators.
Speaking of being supportive, we note these comments by instructors: “Being a small town community college, funding is scarce. We need new technology mobile HVAC equipment and later model vehicles to train on.” From another: “There also has to be better support of tools, equipment, and training for educators. There used to be big support in these areas (but) I have seen this go down over my 25 years.”
It should be a surprise to no one that technician pay is a significant issue. For example, here is one observation from an instructor: “When I started in this business in the early ‘80s, I was making $9 an hour as an entry-level tech in an independent repair shop. My students starting at dealerships are getting paid $10 an hour today?! How in the world can a business complain that they can’t find or keep a qualified employee when they refuse to pay them a decent wage? This industry is going to continue to chase away good people because it is becoming increasingly impossible to make a decent living. Invest in your employees with proper pay, proper training and proper benefits and they won’t run out the door looking for the next best opportunity!”
How should an independent business interface with schools? One response: “They should be doing everything they can to align themselves with the local technical schools. Join advisory committees, offer to help with fundraising or school functions. It’s pretty obvious from my current teaching job that qualified technicians are extremely hard to come by.”
Sobering food for thought? You bet. I personally thank these instructors for their candor and the good work they do every day.
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