Hello MWACA members,
It has been a while since many of you have heard from me, and with all of our new members, there are probably more that don’t have a clue who I am. As the past president of MWACA, I don’t have a lot of duties other than helping our current president, Tim Davison, and our current executive director, Sheri Hamilton, in any way I can. However, I do stay pretty busy as the co-chair of VISION and the chairman of the TTEF (Technicians of Tomorrow Educational Foundation).
The TTEF is what I want to discuss today. As the shortage of qualified technicians has gotten worse and worse, everybody is wondering where we will get the next group of trained technicians. The general consensus by those in the know, is that we will have to grow them: Take young men and women and explain to them what a career as an automotive technician, service advisor, parts person, even a shop owner could be like. Think job shadowing or speaking to a group of trade school first year students and letting them know what this profession is all about. When they are interested, we get then enrolled in the training necessary to develop the skills they will need to be a success in their chosen field.
In my opinion there are a few things working against us. I’ll just throw them out, and maybe write another article getting deeper into those factors.
Inadequate pay – there are so many easier ways to make a living that actually pay far more than the average shop pays.
Respect – there are still people that think a “grease monkey” is just that. They think the kids that didn’t do well in school were sent to “auto shop” with all of the other losers. They think that repairing these “computers on wheels” has to be easy.
A clear career path – most young technicians-to-be don’t know where they will end up in the auto repair profession. It is up to us to provide that path, letting them know that they can work up to lead tech, then to shop foreman, then to shop manager, then to shop owner, and who knows where they can go from there?
So what needs to be done first? That’s the hardest question to answer. The first thing I ask of you is to get in touch with the head of your local community college auto repair department and ask to be included when the advisory board meets. Then actually show up and get involved. Give advice. Let them know what we really need a young tech to be able to do. If they are still teaching points and condensers or carburetors, let them know that is a waste of time.
Now for my big request: Dig out your checkbook and make a donation to the TTEF. Financing the training necessary to bring some new talent into our profession is not cheap, but it can make a real difference! We normally award four $1000 scholarships each year at the awards banquet at VISION. In addition, there are memorial scholarships for both technical and management recipients. We applied for a grant from the University of the Aftermarket to boost our reserves, and our program met and exceeded their qualifications, and we received the grant. What we would really like to do is fund the TTEF enough so the scholarships are self-supporting. The funds would contain enough so that the interest made on the donations would allow us to perpetually award scholarships without decreasing the principal. I have been trying to get some of these put together for several years, and I recently received a check from a man who walks the walk. Rick Hughlett, owner of Rick’s Automotive in Springfield funded the Tim Cummings Memorial Scholarship in honor of his fantastic manager and friend, and former MWACA president, Tim Cummings, who sadly passed away after a strong fight against MSA, a crippling disease. Rick not only wrote a check for $25,000 to TTEF, he also is sponsoring a technical scholarship with OTC, the Ozarks Technical Community College. I challenge you to step up like Rick did, and write a check that will help get some new faces into our profession.