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Signs an Apprenticeship Program Should Wait

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Christopher Petersen, Owner of Northwest Automotive in Kalispell, Mont. has a successful apprenticeship program at his shop. Petersen started the program after a woman approached him about an opportunity to get into the industry. She had recently gotten out of the army and wanted to be a technician. But, with no tools, she was having a difficult time finding a shop that would give her a shot.

“I came to the conclusion that if I wanted a technician that does things the way that our shop wants them done, I’m probably going to have to build them from the ground up,” Petersen says.

Although apprenticeship programs are a prominent way of bringing young talent into the industry, Petersen warns that all shops may not be ready for them. He describes how the addition of an apprenticeship program into an unprepared shop may do more harm than good.

“You got to get the rest of your ducks in a row for an apprenticeship program to work,” says Petersen.

He suggests critically taking a look at your shop stats and performance before deciding to take in an apprentice.

“If you have a weak front-end, or a car count issue, or efficiency issues, I think an apprenticeship program is probably going to cause more stress on your crew,” Petersen says.

He attributes this to the possibility of tech’s beginning to worry if they are going to make enough hours after the addition of an apprentice, since the shop is already struggling. The added worry and stress would then transfer onto the apprentice, making the program potentially ineffective. Above all, an added apprenticeship program to a shop unprepared could create more issues than opportunities.   

 

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