DETROIT—A 3-year-old coalition of auto manufacturers is attempting to make at least a small dent in the chronic shortage of automotive service technicians. Called the Automotive Youth Educational Systems, the coalition has graduated 350 auto technicians since its 1996 inception. At its annual conference in July, the group launched a common automotive electrical systems curriculum for its 600 current students.
It is the first plank of a program that soon will include mechanical and diagnostic curricula, said Don Gray, president of the group.
The group has representatives from General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen of America Inc. The National Automobile Dealers Association also is involved, along with 1,036 of its member dealers.
Under the program, participating dealers get involved with technical high schools in their regions, sitting on curriculum planning boards, funding classroom improvements and offering jobs to program graduates.
AutoNation USA, the largest car dealer chain in the U.S., announced at the conference that it will encourage all of its 432 dealers to participate in the Automotive Youth Educational Systems program in their regions.
Brian Carlton, AutoNation's manager of national technical skills training, said each of the chain's dealerships needs at least one entry-level technician who has a basic knowledge of automotive repair.
Each of the 17 AutoNation dealerships in Denver now has a graduate of the program working in its service department, he said.
The shortage of service technicians is felt by all vehicle manufacturers.
Toyota will need 3,000 entry-level technicians in the next 18 months, said Roger Foss, Toyota's national dealer support manager.
A recent government report said 96,000 new technicians will be needed industrywide by 2006.