Warren DeBardelaben, Nissan North America's director of dealer support, has overseen the automaker's service technician training program since 2006. In that time, he says, more than 5,000 techs have graduated from it.
"And it's still not enough," DeBardelaben told Fixed Ops Journal. "We're still short."
About 9,500 upper-level service technicians work at the automaker's Nissan and Infiniti dealerships, along with more than 2,800 lower-level lube techs. To meet annual needs, DeBardelaben says, the Nissan brand needs to recruit 1,500 high-skill technicians a year, and Infiniti another 300.
Automakers and suppliers, amid a chronic industry shortage of technicians, are ramping up efforts to help dealers find, hire and keep techs. Such initiatives include training, apprentice and scholarship programs, often with emphasis on recruiting military veterans.
Nissan's tech training program includes 52 weeks of general instruction and nine weeks of training specific to the automaker's vehicles. The for-profit Universal Technical Institute administers the program at four of its 13 U.S. campuses.
As tech enrollment at for-profit schools has declined in recent years, Nissan has tapped community colleges accredited by the education foundation of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to teach a modified version of the curriculum.