Earlier this week, NAPA announced its partnership with TechForce Foundation through the organization’s “Grab the Wheel” campaign as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
This partnership aims to place one million new automotive and aviation technicians in jobs within the next five years.
Marti Walsh, VP of marketing at NAPA sat down with Ratchet+Wrench to talk about NAPA's participation in National Apprenticeship Week, its commitment to its industry partners and its Success for Techs Scholarship.
Ratchet+Wrench: Tell us in a nutshell: What is a National Apprenticeship Week?
Marti Walsh: For us, we're so excited about showcasing the opportunities for the industry at large about being an apprentice, understanding what it is to be a technician, seeing all of the opportunity—it's across aviation, automotive, it's in a pit crew. All of these different ways you can bring STEM and a love of the STEM pathway to a career in our larger industry, and we're excited to be a part of it.
R+W: You mentioned STEM. I don't think a lot of people understand there's a STEM correlation to auto repair.
MW: One hundred percent, and as the generations continue to get older, they're so accepting of really figuring out what makes them tick; what makes them happy. Taking STEM and merging it with something you do with your hands is fulfilling for many people. It is a STEM career, and as we're morphing over to more EVs and more complicated ways of how you engage with those parts, the more STEM it’s going to become.
R+W: Let's talk about the value of technician education. From NAPA’s perspective, what (are) you doing to enhance the education of technicians?
MW: We’ve been doing this for a long time, so it's enhancing things we're already doing, whether it be through the NAPA Apprenticeship Program we have (or) a vast amount of training through our auto tech program. We’ve also recently engaged with UTI sponsoring all of their 13 campuses. I believe they're adding in a 14th one this year. We just announced a great partnership with TechForce.
R+W: Walk us through NAPA's Apprenticeship Program. What's the program like? Who does it serve? What can students hope to get upon completing it?
MW: It’s providing people with partnerships with a local auto care shop in their community, engaging with that job, learning the skills on the job, training skills alongside that shop owner, getting all their skills through the auto care shop and then hopefully having a job once completed.
R+W: How is NAPA getting involved with Women in Auto Care and helping women understand career opportunities within automotive?
MW: We've amplified it by providing 20 different toolkits valued at over $9,000 each awarded to female students across the U.S. who are interested in a career in the auto industry.
R+W: How are you promoting NAPA’s relationship to National Apprenticeship Week (with) some of the things you are doing with your partners?
MW: So, a big partnership with TechForce; we're engaging in their “Grab the Wheel” campaign.
R+W: How long have you had a partnership with TechForce Foundation?
MW: I want to say it's been in the back half of this year.
R+W: Can you talk briefly about the “Grab the Wheel” campaign and what you are doing with them on that program?
MW: We're trying to reach that 13- to 24-year-old who is thinking about what do I want to do with my life? What is my career going to be like? What am I thinking post-high school, and trying to get in those middle school ages about this idea that you don't have to love cars to be a technician. You have to love STEM. So, trying to partner with them and leverage our scale to drive this awareness of how great a technician career can be.
R+W: Why is it important for NAPA to be involved with partnerships like UTI, TechForce, Women in Auto Care and some of the other organizations you partner with?
MW: I'm very passionate about this for two reasons. From a business standpoint, without technicians, we can't have sustainable growth in the industry. We need people to install our parts to drive growth for us, but also for our shop owners, so it's mutually beneficial. And then secondarily, this technician career from a society-at-large perspective; it is such an opportunity.
It's such a space where you can get in and you get that accomplishment day in, day out. It's such an amazing career path. I'm very passionate about showcasing that there are multiple career paths to success in life. It might be a four-year degree, or it might be a trade school, but they're all fantastic ways to drive success in your individual life.
R+W: Can you talk about the NAPA Success for Techs Scholarship?
MW: We have five scholarships available. They'll be awarded this fall with a toolkit and a financial contribution to jumpstart their technician career. (We’re) excited to see what happens.
R+W: Is there anything else you'd like to share about National Apprenticeship Week?
MW: We're just getting started. We have a clear strategy on how we want to be the leaders in closing that gap. We want to drive society's perception that a career as a technician is a celebrated and admirable career to choose.