Central Texas College (CTC) and Transitions Assistance Support of San Angelo, TX recently announced a partnership that will result in career opportunities in the automotive industry for transitioning soldiers and students at participating Ford dealerships in Texas. Up to 15 soldiers are scheduled to participate in the Technicians of Tomorrow Career Skills program (TOT), an exclusive Texas Ford training program, set to launch in September. Upon completion, graduates will be offered an entry level Ford technicians’ position and immediate employment with a sponsoring Ford dealer in Texas.
The TOT program is targeting high-quality soldiers with exceptional mechanic skills interested in building an automotive career (MOS 91B) for the program. Ford dealerships across Texas will interview qualifying soldiers for sponsorship and employment. Each selected candidate will undergo 120 hours of online and 14 weeks of classroom training.
The 16-week program encompasses accelerated technical training including online, classroom, lab and apprentice training at a dealership. CTC will conduct the program using Ford’s train technicians, tools and vehicles. The first month covers technician fundamentals, an introduction to automotive and quick service, dealer apprenticeship and basic electrical. The remaining three months include warranty fundamentals, new model training and elective study. Other key classes include shop safety, quick service and vehicle control unit and technical writing. Upon graduation, participants will have received 500 hours of training and hands-on experience and will have earned four Ford certifications – electrical, brakes, climate control and steering and suspension.
Training also includes four weeks of apprenticeship at a sponsoring dealership occurring the third week of each month. During each apprenticeship, participants are provided with task lists designed to reinforce the current curriculum. They will shadow senior technicians, service advisors, warranty administrators and parts counter staff. Participants will be encouraged to work in the shop to prepare them for a production-based environment.
To seal the partnership with Ford for the TOT program, the CTC automotive program and its instructors are in the process of becoming certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Raymond Lawrason, instructor – CTC automotive program, noted the ASE certification is a year-long process. “Our instructors have taken tests and have undergone inspection of our facility, tools and lesson plans,” he said. “The certification ensures everything we offer the students - from instruction to the tools to the diagnostic equipment – is up to industry standards.”
Ford vehicles will be used during the program. “The vehicles will be problem-free initially,” said Lawrason. “We will then start to add bugs and create problems with the vehicles for the students to solve. Everything from the electrical, steering, suspension, air conditioning, brakes, noise, vibration and harness issues will be addressed. The students will gain a complete understanding of the vehicle and the computer system used by Ford.”
Lawrason added there is no out-of-pocket cost for the soldiers selected for the TOT program and each will receive a technician toolkit at no cost. “The toolkit is selected by Rotunda Engineers for the new technician in mind and provides everything an entry level technician needs,” he said.
The career opportunities afforded by the new TOT program are huge as the automotive industry faces a shortfall of 70,000 trained technicians each year. “The demand for technicians keeps going up while the number of graduating qualified technicians continues to decline,” Lawrason said. “In Texas, the shortfall of technicians is estimated to be about 700 technicians. And across the country, the estimated demand for technicians over the next five years is nearly 380,000.”
The Technicians of Tomorrow Career Skills program will provide transitioning soldiers an edge in the automotive repair job market. “The intense study and training students receive in this program will put them ahead of their peers,” said Lawrason. “At the end, the students will go to work for a sponsoring dealership and walk out on the floor and start working.”
Photo: Instructor Ben Boyd watches a student in the automotive mechanic program last fall conduct a fluid and belt check on a vehicle in the automotive bay of the Career and Technology Education Center.