Written by Chasidy Rae Sisk for Autobody News
In an effort to reduce the tech shortage problem, the Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC) is sponsoring the North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program.
Employers can participate at no cost and students can obtain a free education while earning wages at a part-time job.
“The North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program is for any high school senior who is interested in pursuing a career as an automotive technician in North Carolina. A lack of qualified technicians is hurting the industry and this is a great way to turn that shortage around,” said IGONC Executive Director Bob Pulverenti.
The North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program is open to high school seniors who must register with the program and be placed with an approved shop prior to graduating. Pulverenti said in order for students to get their tuition waved, there are certain assignments the students must show proficiency in.
“Students come out of school with a degree, a certified apprenticeship, a journeyman’s card and no debt,” Pulverenti added.
Shops interested in participating as an employer must be in good standing with the association; however, there are no other charges related to the program other than paying their part-time employee.
“If a shop wants a good pool of qualified talent to hire from in the future, it is important for them to nurture the technicians of tomorrow today,” Pulverenti said. “The response from shop owners has been overwhelming. Owners are growing their own employees and are able to train them right from the start.”
IGONC decided to be the program’s primary sponsor for good reason. Pulverenti explained, “The amount of work it would have taken for just one of our shops to get this done would have been enormous. There are apprentice groups trying to get employers to pay thousands of dollars a year to participate, but we decided that, as an association, we wanted to be able to provide this as a service to our members and to the industry as a whole.”
IGONC has worked diligently to make the dream of the North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program into a reality. It took a while to make this happen, Pulverenti said.
“The apprentice program has been around for a number of years, but there was no one focused on making it available to automotive students. Whenever you work within a large chain of people, you always seem to run into those who want to put in the least amount of effort,” Pulverenti said.
Pulverenti continues, “Shante Bell, who coordinates the North Central Region of the apprentice program for the North Carolina Community College system, helped connect us with folks around the state who work with the students we need to reach to make this program a success. Altogether, we have been trying to get this done for over two and a half years and we are thrilled it has paid off.”
Despite having little time to kick off the program after the paperwork was completed in April and before students graduated in June, the North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program is already underway with several new apprentices placed in North Carolina shops.
“We’ll be working to add a pre-apprentice program over the next year so that students can register at age 16 and shift into the apprentice program when it’s time to graduate from high school. We will also be focusing on outreach to let students know about this career path,” Pulverenti said about the future of the program.
Students and shops interested in participating in the North Carolina Automotive Apprenticeship Program can contact IGONC Marketing and Communications Director Tricia Sauls at Tricia@igonc.com. The program’s Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/NCAutoApprentice/.
As originally shared in Autobody News here.