As the technician shortage grinds on, more and more dealers are partnering with local entities to fill their own pipelines. The latest: South Florida's Warren Henry Auto Group.
The company, which sells domestic brands as well as luxury imports such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, Bugatti and Lamborghini, has established a service technician apprenticeship program with Miami Dade College. As many as 20 students per semester can be enrolled.
Students accepted into the program get free tuition, health insurance and books. The two-year program, which began this summer, consists of classroom learning followed by real-world experience at a Warren Henry Jaguar-Land Rover store. There, apprentices are paired with mentors while they learn how to work in the service department. They also get a paycheck.
After completing the program, apprentices earn a certificate and are offered a job at one of Warren Henry's six locations. Currently, the group has openings for about 70 technicians.
CareerSource South Florida, a public-private partnership that establishes state and federally funded work force development and training policies, also is supporting the apprenticeship program. Warren Henry is investing $850,000 over two years for compensation for the faculty and students, classroom space, furniture and equipment.
"While we combat this technician shortage, we are excited to be in this collaboration with both entities," says Warren Zinn, Warren Henry Auto Group's CEO. "The shortage of technicians is undeniable, but we want to be part of the solution. That's why we have come up with this incredible initiative that is also going to contribute to the growth of technicians in our community."
Last year, Pennsylvania dealer Harry Faulkner pledged $1 million in cash, equipment and other resources to help fund a state-approved technician training academy at a local Catholic high school. Construction on the project began this summer.