Partnerships drive auto tech training

Clackamas Community College students and faculty celebrate the arrival of the STI donated by Subaru. (Photo: CCC)

As vehicles get more technologically advanced, educating automotive technicians can become trickier.

Many community colleges have automotive programs, but getting current equipment for hands-on training is expensive. Partnerships with companies and dealerships are becoming necessary in order to ensure students are getting the right training for the workforce.

Oregon’s Clackamas Community College (CCC) recently announced a partnership with Subaru to bring free training to campus. Subaru donated three cars to the college. Students work with Subaru factory tools and software along with stand-alone engines and other Subaru car parts.

CCC is one of several colleges across the country to be part of Subaru University. A nationwide shortage of auto technicians, combined with Subaru sales growth, led the corporation to create Subaru-U to help produce qualified employees.

The program infuses Subaru’s web-based training into the existing curriculum, allowing students to take most of the entry-level training that is required of all Subaru technicians, preparing students for employment with any one of its 600 Subaru retailers nationwide.

“The new technology in Subaru vehicles is going to change the way we teach car repair at CCC,” said instructor Jared Green, who spearheaded the partnership. “Students get to train on it all for free, then step into a great career. This is another example of how CCC partners with industry to provide education that works for our students.”

This program also partners with local Subaru service centers to create paid internships and job opportunities for CCC students.

Though Subaru-U is relatively new, the concept behind it is not. Chrysler introduced the Chrysler Apprenticeship Program in 1984. It started with a partnership with five community colleges and universities. The program is now called the MOPAR College Automotive Program and has expanded to about 25 community colleges. It includes paid, on-the-job work experience at a dealership.

The Ford Technical Career Entry Program provides Ford-specific training to help students land a job as a master tech, shop foreman, service manager, or eventually a general manager. More than 75 institutions — many of them community colleges — house this training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of qualified technicians needed nationwide will rise to around 780,000 by the year 2024, representing a 5 percent year-over-year increase in demand.

This article comes from the AACC 21st-Century Center.