BMW CEO Tom Purves: He wants to tell educators that being an auto technician is a worthy occupation.
"Most educators think it's a less-than-wonderful occupation," says Purves, CEO of BMW North America LLC. "They question whether there's any career associated with it. They think people get filthy dirty and don't have proper facilities."
Purves has reason to be concerned.
You would be hard pressed to find the stereotypical grease monkey in today's dealerships, Purves says.
"You go into 90 percent of franchised car dealerships today, it's not like that at all," he says. "And in some of the brands, like our own, they are particularly pleasant places to work. They (technicians) are working on electronics more often than they are working on oily mechanical parts."
Purves will take over as chairman of Automotive Youth Educational Systems from Gerd Klauss, CEO of Volkswagen of America Inc. Purves says one of his missions will be to meet with educators and attend educational conferences to get the word out about technicians.
"We need to sell it to the educators," he says. "That's the really critical thing. We need the kids to be encouraged to go along."
Automotive Youth Educational Systems is a nationwide initiative among dealers, automakers and schools to groom high school students for careers as dealership service technicians.
The group has about 4,500 participating dealers.
The program was started by General Motors in 1997 and is supported financially by 13 automakers.