Your Guide to Apprenticeships
As Sarah Price and Cindy Weinberg take their turns at the podium, they address the store managers, the mentors, the company’s CEO in attendance.
Oh, and we can’t forget the most important guests: the employees who have just graduated from Virginia Tire & Auto’s apprenticeship program.
“My message to everyone is to keep learning,” Weinberg says, thinking back on that day. “The learning is never over.”
“I tell them that they accomplished this goal,” Price adds, “and they are going to have many more goals to accomplish.”
You’ll note a core message shared between the training manager (Price) and director of talent development (Weinberg) just before they hand out graduation certificates to the former apprentices: there’s a culture of learning at Virginia Tire & Auto. In order for the 13-location auto repair business to cultivate lifelong employees, its apprenticeship program must do more than coach young technicians and service advisors on the basics of the business—it must present auto repair as a viable, fulfilling career.
And that’s where apprenticeship programs trip many shop owners up, says Wayne Martella. With two apprentices always on rotation between his four AAMCO shops in Mesa, Ariz., he knows how difficult it can be to not only oversee an apprenticeship, but also to ensure mentees are getting the full picture of the industry, and ensure that mentors are properly cultivating future leaders. From the moment apprentices walk into your shop to the moment they become full-time professionals, you must build a foundation for them to thrive.
Luckily, if you follow advice from people well versed in the practice, you’ll be ready to build a better future for your shop—a better future for the industry.