We're hearing a lot about the number of unfilled jobs in the automotive profession. But as a high school vocational teacher — collision repair, specifically — I see a major issue.
There's a gap between the high school exit door and the dealership entry door. In other words, kids come out of a high school program, and there's no continuity on how to enter the work force.
I know that sounds bad, like the high school doesn't prepare them. But I'm talking about, how do you land a job and advance? How do you get to that end game? It's all situational, and it's all attitudinal. A kid coming into the profession has to prove their worth, so to speak. There's no written plan.
My program is very structured. The body shop business wants a student who is trained and has a strong work ethic. I get 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds in my program. And even an 18-year-old can still be working on building a strong work ethic.
They leave a program like mine and go to a place that doesn't have good structure. As a result, young kids have to come in and push a broom to see if the shop likes them — even if they've been through my program and I've given them a bunch of tasks.