Last week, WrenchWay hosted the first annual WrenchWay Schools Week. During WrenchWay Schools Week, we had the opportunity to sit down with instructors, students, shop owners, and other industry professionals to discuss all the great things schools and shops are doing to help students find success in technician careers.

Roundtable Highlights

Student Roundtable — The Path to Becoming a Technician

When it comes to the future of the automotive, diesel, and collision industries, getting more students interested and involved in technician programs is the number one priority. Not only are we dealing with a national technician shortage, but 42% of technicians are leaving the industry within the first two years of work. We sat down with students from around the country to hear about their paths to becoming technicians.

  • Schools need to advertise the opportunities and connections they can offer students within their program.
  • It’s important for students to create relationships with other students and instructors. This can open doors and offer opportunities down the road.
  • The best programs offer a mix of classroom learning and real life experience. This helps students create confidence by learning skills they will need in the shop.
  • Shops need to create an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and have someone they can look up to. Going into a shop can be intimidating as a student, and it’s important for schools and shops to mentor and support students and new technicians.
  • Schools need to provide guidance counselors with resources to help students know about the different opportunities they can do after high school, including the skilled trades.
  • Schools (and shops) need to work to create an environment where they are encouraging women to join automotive programs, and give them an opportunity to succeed.

“I have a competitive nature, so I love being competitive and pushing myself. It’s such a vase industry and can take you in so many different directions.”
Zackery Hackett, Diesel Student, Madison Area Technical College

Instructor Roundtable — Recruiting and Supporting New Instructors

Not only is it important to focus on getting more students interested in technician careers, but it is also important to bring in new automotive, collision, and diesel instructors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be 17,500 openings for career and technical education teachers each year on average over the next decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.

During this roundtable we had the opportunity to sit down with three instructors to discuss how we can recruit and retain new instructors.

  • Instructors need to have passion for students and the industry.
  • If you want to become an instructor, get involved with kids right away. Be a mentor, coach, and get involved in schools.
  • It’s a different thing to fix cars, and teach students how to fix cars. It’s a special niche to find someone who fits that mold, and it can be very difficult.
  • Instructors are thrown into two different worlds: the automotive world and the education world. Instructors need to be able to find a happy balance between both.
  • Instructors need to invest in training all the time. They have to know it, and teach it. The industry is changing so fast—there’s no time to waste.
  • Instructors need to be humble. There are going to be questions students ask that they don’t know the answer to.. It’s ok to say you don’t know the answer and you’ll get back to them.
  • Instructors make a huge impact on a student/s lives, and there is a big emotional aspect to the job. There are so many students who have things going on at home, and their education is a way for them to escape and do something they love.
  • Technicians are lifelong learners, and being an instructor is no different. You need to constantly learn and expand your knowledge.

“You can learn anything you need to know on this job. The one thing you can’t teach is passion. If you’ve got a passion for it, you’re going to be tremendously successful.” – Brian Hawn, Automotive Instructor, McFarland High School

Thank you to all the instructors, students, shop owners, technicians, and industry partners for making the first annual WrenchWay Schools Week a success. We’re already counting down the days until next year!