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6 Excuses Why Shops Have Not Embraced an Automotive Apprentice Program

You may agree or disagree with these reasons why only a small percentage of shops have not implemented an automotive apprentice program. You may even find one of your favorite excuses below. If you’ve looked for a technician in the last few years, you are investing time (which is money) hunting every day.

If building your future bench was the smartest thing you could do, would you?

1. I don’t know where to find a candidate.

First of all, schools are looking to help. Yes, they are. They realize that many of their students are not looking at going to college so they see skilled trades as viable opportunities. They want to reach out to local businesses and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don’t wait to be contacted. You need to be proactive and reach out to schools. Put a visit on your calendar for March 2022.

Likewise, educators are very aware of the number of skilled trade jobs available. This has sparked a renewed focus on great-paying jobs with no college debt. They understand that internships can turn into full-blown automotive apprentice programs for all skilled trades.

Furthermore, many of your clients have a young person at home or have a relative or friend that needs to start to prepare for their future. You can never start young enough to take on a student as a shadow or an intern. If they want to take the next step, you will have your apprentice program in place and ready to take on a student. How cool is that?

2. I’m too busy and have no time.

In other words, you are too busy looking for help, writing ads, interviewing, and worrying about how you are going to handle your two-week backup. Your customers may not be so ‘waitful’ in the future. Imagine if you had started an automotive apprentice program two years ago. Oh, what a different perspective!

Now, you can tell yourself, “I can’t pull off my lead tech to help an apprentice.” OK, then who will help mentor and teach? The alternative isn’t good either.

3. I don’t have a good mentor.

This is a very legit excuse, but who says you don’t if you haven’t asked? There just may be someone in your shop who may be itching to teach someone what they know. Remember, when you teach, you learn, which is good for the mentor. Also, remember a mentor is there for support and advice when asked.

Additionally, who says the owner can’t be part of the mentoring team? The lead tech may not be the best mentor but you may have other techs who can step up.

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4. What if I teach them and they leave?

This excuse is full of holes. What will your business be like in two years? Are you growing, improving your culture and making more money so you can have the kind of compensation program that keeps great talent? Are you improving your benefits? Have you created a great work experience, outlined a training career path and equipped the shop with the proper tools, training, and equipment to allow your team to flourish?

If not, you may lose more of your own top talent and have a deeper hole to climb out of.

Honestly, if they leave for all the right reasons, they will always remember who gave them their start. You may just get them back down the road. You’ve planted a seed that could grow again at your place.

5. An automotive apprentice program is too complicated.

So is a corporate tax form. And frankly, anything worthwhile takes time to learn.

The network of shops that have automotive apprentice programs in full flight are more than happy to help you on your way. Just ask me and I’ll get your help.

Before you get intimidated, accept that curriculums are not hard. They are usually defined with a learning management system inside your approved apprentice program.

6. My shop’s too small.

Do you plan to grow in the future? Add a bay? Move?

So, you add an apprentice and find that upon graduation your graduate is better than one of your C technicians. What a bonus!

Meanwhile, you have shop owner friends in your marketplace who may need an entry-level technician. Maybe they are willing to support your costs and take the apprentice on full time. Remember, they will never forget where they got their training.

Also, a small shop is nimble and the candidate may get more hands-on experience.

There, now you don’t have any excuses but you have lots of motivation to bring on fresh, young talent that will reinvigorate our industry. If you still feel stuck, find episodes on my website that may inspire you to help solve your problem of the technician shortage. I can also put you in touch with shops that are well into it and/or people who can help you start.

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