For the past year and a half, in addition to being editor of TechShop, I’ve also carried the role as editor of our student publication Tomorrow’s Tech, which is delivered to NATEF-certified automotive technical programs throughout the U.S. With this responsibility, I’m keenly aware of the industry’s need for the next generation of automotive service technicians. Encouraging and inspiring young people to get into the aftermarket is as complicated as the systems they’ll service.
While I’m not working on cars, I can relate somewhat. It’s often a challenge to teach and encourage young journalists to learn about trade publications. Recently, my niece, as part of a high school senior year project, participated in a job-shadowing program, and chose to come in to the Babcox Media offices for a week to get a behind-the-scenes look at how we put these magazines together. It was great spending the time with her and she got to see what it’s like to work here.
This experience moved me to write about grooming young techs to become your next top techs. There are so many smart people out there who love to work on cars. If you’re looking for a new tech, have you thought about a technician mentorship program at your shop?
You can reach out to an area automotive technical program to mentor a young tech or student who shows promise.
Educating & Empowering Others
If you need some inspiration, look to some inspiring people throughout the aftermarket like Bogi Latiener, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive (www.180automotive.com) in Phoenix. This self-described over-achiever hosts clinics to educate women about their cars, and is passionate about investing in the next generation of technicians. Her shop mentors young techs, hoping to find her shop’s next star.
Similarly, Patrice Banks of Girls Auto Clinic (www.girlsautoclinic.com) educates and hires women in the Philadelphia area. Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic Car Care Workshops provide women with an interactive and fun way to learn about their cars and, for all she knows, a new employee could be in the midst of those workshop attendees. This year she is opening the first Girls Auto Clinic Repair Shop, which will be run by – and will cater to – women.
And there’s Mike Davidson from Parkway Automotive in Little Rock, AR, who is also forging a path to hiring and grooming the next generation of technicians. He has developed a program called Hiring for Keeps that helps shop owners identify the superstars before you hire them. Two crucial points he considers is “their attitude and their self-initiative.”
Davidson is the president of the American Skilled Labor Association (ASLA), and is an AMI graduate and ASE Master Technician. According to the ASLA site, “In order to find and hire the right candidates, you will need to have a clear understanding of the individuals you are looking for, and the position they will grow into.” Find the group’s Apprentice Program Guide at www.skilledlaborus.com to help you get started.
You might find it refreshing to have some young blood at the shop. And think of it as your way of giving back to the industry through training the next generation of technicians.