Ratchet+Wrench continues its weekly series looking at 2018’s World Class Technician recipients, including a brief bio of their career, and their thoughts on the industry. This week’s feature is on John Hayes, a teacher of automotive technology at Beloit Memorial High School.
There are an estimated 879,000 technicians in the United States, with more than 300,000 of them holding ASE certification. Nearly 2,000 technicians have earned the status of “World Class Technician” since its inception over 30 years ago.To earn World Class status, a technician must achieve certification in 22 specialty areas during the 2017 certification test administered by ASE.
Where do you work, and how long have you worked there?
Right now I teach at Beloit Memorial High School, and this is my second year. Third year of teaching overall, and I teach automotive technology.
What drew you to the automotive industry, and what made you passionate about it?
I started when I was about 10, started working part time in a salvage yard. I had an awesome mentor, and once you’re taking things apart, you figure out how they work, it’s not that long of a stretch to figure out how to put it back together.
I’ve worked about just in all facets. I’ve been a service manager, assistant parts manager, technician for most of the time, worked at chain stores, dealerships, independent shops.
Teaching was actually the long-term plan, it’s just that the topic changed. I started out in college in ‘86. My wife and I, we couldn’t afford both of us to to go, so I dropped out and went in as a tech. The plan was, when my wife was working full time, I would move back and finish. By the time that happened, I was master certified and making good money. It didn’t make sense to go back to college for a pay cut, so I decided I’d finish college at a later date. I just didn’t know it would be 30 years later.
In 2015 I graduated from UW Stout. I call it homeschooled, because I did the whole thing online.
How and why did you earn your World Class Tech certification with ASE?
Master Automobile and Master Medium-Heavy Truck I had through work and experience. I had two of the three advanced level certifications. The main reason for finishing up, is showing students it’s a lifelong learning process. If I’m 51 years old and I’m still earning certifications, you’re definitely going to be doing that when you’re first starting out. As a vet one of our big things is leading by example. I want to show them that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
What are your thoughts on the technician shortage currently facing the industry? What are some ways shops can get people more like yourself involved and passionate?
If people want to get involved, they need to get on their local advisory board at their high schools and colleges. We listen to what the industry does. One of the topics I have at every meeting, “What skills are you short? What are you not seeing? What do I need to teach my students so they get hired?” You tell us what they need to know, and we’ll teach it.
All certified programs use advisory boards, and people who sit on boards get the best students. I placed three of mine this year in jobs. Half of my advanced class already has jobs waiting for them.