Dealer Mark Benson wants to give poor kids a shot at a lucrative career while helping to solve the national shortage of service technicians.
Last year, Benson teamed with the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts of America to start a program at his dealership to introduce high school students to careers as service techs. He wants to take it nationwide.
Benson, president of Honolulu Ford in Hawaii, cites estimates of a need for 100,000 technicians in the U.S. and adds, "The high schools, for the most part, no longer have vocational tech training classes. So we have to create our own farm system, just like in baseball."
The program, Honolulu Ford Explorer Post, recruits local high school students ages 17 and 18. It's named after the Boy Scouts' worksite-based Explorer Post learning program for those generally ages 15-20. (The Boy Scouts' program for older members of that age group was formerly known as Explorers, but now is called Venturing.) The students spend two evenings a month for nearly a year in Benson's dealership learning what it takes to be a service tech.
Benson, an Eagle Scout, said he has been meeting with the Boy Scouts leadership to discuss a way to roll out a similar program at other dealerships nationwide. He chose to team with the Boy Scouts because of the success of their fire and police cadet programs.