Episode Description

In this week’s episode of Beyond the Wrench we are joined by Dan Klecker and Margaret Ragan to discuss how shops and schools can work together to get more students involved in the automotive industry, youth apprenticeship programs, and much more!

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Why Shops are Reluctant to Hire Younger Kids and How to Help

  • A lot of shops say their insurance won’t allow them to hire kids under 18, which is not true. The reality is shop owners don’t always have the time to mentor them.
  • Shops need to have a plan put in place if they’re hiring someone younger and how they are going to help them learn and grow in the industry.
  • Having a structured outline to know how to deal with the young people will help shops and students succeed.
  • Shops don’t want to feel like they are babysitting when bringing in younger kids. That’s why developing a plan and making the kids aware of the plan is so important.
  • Don’t give kids the jobs you don’t want to do like sweeping and cleaning. Make sure you are teaching them skills they want to learn while being in your shop.

Youth Apprenticeship Programs

  • Have a mentor in the shop that is going to take time to listen and teach the younger kids. It’s important when kids are in your shop at a young age they are being shown this is a great industry to work in.
  • The chances of kids staying in the industry are drastically higher if they are introduced to the industry in high school or at a younger age.
  • Parents need to be made aware of the programs out there for their kids and know all the opportunities school programs offer.
  • Shops aren’t aware of what student programs are nearby. They aren’t connecting with the local schools and don’t know what is being offered in the classroom.
  • Kids that are interested in engineering can have a bright future in the automotive industry if we show them the opportunities while they are in school.

“It is far easier for a business to mentor a student out of your industry than to mentor them in.”

Dan Klecker, State Education Director, WATDA

How Can Shops Get Students Involved?

  • It is critical that shops are on a first name basis with the tech ed or automotive teacher at their local schools.
  • If shops want high quality young techs they need to get involved and be on an advisory board within the schools.
  • If you’re a local shop, you should be getting involved in your community. It goes a long way and helps get the name of your shop out there to kids.
  • Shops need to start making relationships with schools early and stay in contact with them. Don’t just reach out every five years when you need something.
  • It is ok for shops to ask schools for advice on how to bring programs in line with the industry.

How Can Schools Get Students in the Shop?

  • Don’t throw your school automotive program in the back of the school and never tell students about it. Create opportunities for students to check out every program your school has to offer.
  • Students are interested in the industry, and schools need to show students the pathway to success and what the future looks like for the automotive industry.
  • Schools should be reaching out to shops to get in contact with technicians and give students shop tours to see what it is like to be a technician.

Schools Can Help Promote Skilled Trades as a Career

Show Notes


Download the free WrenchWay app in the App Store or on Google Play:

Learn more about WrenchWay School Assist: https://wrenchway.com/solutions/schools/ 

About Our Host:

Jay Goninen
Co- Founder & President, WrenchWay
jayg@wrenchway.com | 608.716.2122

About Our Guests:

Dan Klecker
State Education Director, WATDA

Margaret Ragan
Association Outreach Coordinator, Northwest Automotive Trades Association

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