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AASP-MN Shifts Focus to Recruit More High School Students

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May 17, 2017—In order to effectively address the technician shortage that continually plagues the automotive service industry each year, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) is extending its yearly scholarship program to high school students.

This year marked the first time AASP-MN opened the $1,000 scholarships to high school students entering their first year of a two-year NATEF-certified automotive program, resulting in an additional nine applicants.

As a result, five scholarships were awarded to high school students: one collision repair student entering Hennepin Technical College, Eden Prairie and four automotive service students entering Dakota County Technical College, St. Cloud Technical College, Century College and Central Lakes College.

Judell Anderson, executive director for AASP-MN, said the organization decided to shift part of its focus to high school students. While student retainment used to be an issue for technical colleges—which is why the scholarships were originally aimed at students entering their second year of college—recruitment has become the bigger issue, so reaching students at an earlier age is becoming more and more crucial.

“It’s about providing auto careers and keeping the auto service and collision programs we have viable and at capacity,” Anderson said in an interview with Ratchet+Wrench. “Because we certainly need all the students we can churn out.”

With it being the first year the scholarships were offered to high school students, Anderson said the organization expects the level of response to build with each successive year. It’s all about how effectively high school instructors and counselors push their students to apply for scholarships—an important step that Anderson said could be aided by shop owners by meeting with counselors and sitting on school advisory boards.

“We need to push these scholarships,” Anderson said. “We want people to know about them. The more people talking about them, that increases visibility of what we’re doing.”

For more information on how to become more involved with high schools and motivating students, check out our past feature on Monroe Tire & Service.

Less Interest in Trade Positions

The ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey, reported that, of 38,000 employers surveyed, 32 percent had difficulty filling jobs due to lack of talent in various fields, including trade positions. In July 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3.6 million unfilled job openings—today, it’s up to 5.8 million. This effect has stretched to vocational schools nationwide, which saw enrollment start slowing down significantly in 2006.

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