Automotive technology students from the F. Donald Myers Education Center took part in a unique field trip that connected them with college and careers. The half-day event occurred at the New Country Toyota Dealership on Route 50 in Saratoga Springs.
The field trip highlighted the symbiotic relationship between the high school Career and Technical Education program, business and industry, and community college.
Service managers from four competing Toyota dealerships spoke with students about the expectations they have for employees and the kind of education and training needed to secure a position in the automotive industry.
“Toyota is always looking for technicians,” said WSWHE BOCES Work-Based Learning Coordinator John Major, who coordinated the experience. “This event is a way for us to put together internships and line up dealer sponsors for students so they can take factory-specific programs at college.”
Toyota and Lexus dealers use a world-class training program called T-TEN to develop certified service technicians. T-TEN partners with high school Career and Technical Education programs, dealerships, and community colleges to combine classroom study and hands-on dealership experience. There are only three schools in NYS that provide T-TEN, with the closest being Columbia Greene Community College.
The T-TEN Coordinator for Columbia Greene Community College (CGCC), Michael Trimarchi, explained about the training program and how to apply.
“We have high standards for the program because dealers have high standards,” said Trimarchi. Starting with the incoming class of 2015, CGCC will ask the high school automotive technology teachers to rate and rank the students’ employability. Prospective students will have an interview and take a placement exam to determine academic eligibility.
“Cars have changed,” said Trimarchi. “It’s more brains than brawn now. We’re looking for the person who eats, drinks and sleeps cars – the kind of person who loves cars as a hobby and a career.”
One of the requirements for the T-TEN program is for students to work at a dealership during the summers while they attend college. “Ideally, the dealer will sponsor a student through a paid internship starting the summer following high school graduation, and the student will already be enrolled at CGCC,” Trimarchi said.
Dealers are already familiar with the Myers automotive students because WSWHE BOCES places students in internships as part of their regular CTE program.
“We place one or two automotive technology students in internships at New Country Toyota almost every year,” said Major. “They do a really great job mentoring our students.”
Following graduation from CGCC and the T-TEN program, automotive students will be Toyota Certified Technicians and able to perform warranty work.
“85-90% of the work in a dealership is warranty work,” said Myers Automotive Technology Teacher Greg Van Deusen.
“Dealers like to hire candidates with manufacturer certification because it saves them the expense of sending service technicians to corporate headquarters for training,” said Trimarchi.
“We’re always looking for good technicians,” said New Country Toyota of Saratoga Springs Service Manager Nick Smith. “It’s hard to find certified Toyota technicians.”
Smith feels it is important to show the automotive students the product they are going to be working on, in the environment in which they will be working. “These are the students who are possibly going to the T-TEN program,” he said.
When asked if his dealership would sponsor a student for the training program, Smith said: “We would certainly put together an application and do a second interview.”
With the changes in the automotive industry, collaboration between high school Career and Technical Education programs, business and industry, and community colleges are more important than ever to student success. As more car manufacturers house their specialty training programs in community colleges, field trips such as this drive home the idea that students have to be specific about their educational goals. They need to be aware of which colleges have generic Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) programs and which offer manufacturer certified programs, and for which manufacturer.
Photo (l.-r.) WSWHE BOCES Work-Based Learning Coordinator John Major, New Country Toyota of Saratoga Springs Service Manager Nick Smith, New Country Lexus of Latham Service Manager Joe Moran, New Country Toyota of Clifton Park Service Manager Ray Skiba, and Columbia Greene Community College Automotive Technology and Toyota T-TEN Coordinator Michael Trimarchi.