New Degree to Focus on Business Side of Repair Shops

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September 10, 2018—Cuyamaca College in California partnered with the Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) to start an academic program that it claims "is the first of its kind in California."

Students in the program will take 1,200 hours of classroom instruction and work 1,200 hours at a local repair shop, said shop owner John Eppstein in an interview with a local news outlet. In addition, the program will also provide resources for students interested in eventually opening their own repair shop.

"We're going to teach them a little bit about the business because fixing a car at home for yourself is very different than working on a car in a shop," Eppstein said.

The two-year degree program begins in January. Cuyamaca College is currently recruiting from the approximately 70 repair shops affiliated with ASCCA in order to form partnerships in developing the next generation of technicians.

Cuyamaca College has been offering similar programs in partnership with Ford and GM dealerships since the 1980s and '90s, and according to the college, 99 percent of the graduates are hired by sponsoring dealerships, with starting salaries of about $22 an hour.

The new program will also focus heavily on technology as vehicles continue to advance and become more complicated.

"One of the misconceptions of today is we have a computer we plug into the car and it will tell us exactly what is wrong with the car. And that is incorrect," said Eppstein. "We have a piece of equipment we plug into the car and it tells us what part of the car the problem is in. We then need to go in and do testing to figure out what the actual issue is."

Eppstein said mechanics spend about 75 percent of their time testing and inspecting a vehicle when it comes into the repair shop. The other 25 percent of their time is spent on actually repairing it.

"There's so many different parts of the car that 20, 25 years ago were all mechanical that are now not only mechanical, but they're electronic as well," explained Eppstein. "Then, there's a lot of components today that 25 years ago were all mechanical, and today, they're all electronic."

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