TROY, Mich. (July 10, 2000)—Good tech help is hard to find these days. Mercedes-Benz USA wants to fix that.
The luxury-car company is partnering with Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES), a nonprofit organization that trains technicians for careers in automotive repair.
"These kids will be working shoulder to shoulder with Mercedes-Benz master technicians," said Donald Gray, president of the Troy, Mich.-based training program.
High school students will participate in full-time internships during the summer between their junior and senior years, and again part time during senior year.
"We now have about 4,100 technicians, and from our estimates, we´re going to want to attract about 5,000 over the next six years," said Greg Settle, Mercedes-Benz USA´s national manager of technical training.
Finding qualified mechanics "definitely is difficult," he said. "It´s really what´s driving the interest in programs like AYES.|.|.|. And we´re competing with the computer industry. The last two or three years have been particularly difficult."
The training program was launched in 1995 to address the growing scarcity of qualified entry-level automotive technicians. The program forges partnerships between automotive retail centers and secondary schools.
Program participants include more than 170 schools in 31 states.
"We have 900 students in the system this next school year," Mr. Gray said. "We have had 1,400 go through the system so far."
"After investigation into technician recruitment and the shortage in the industry, we found that AYES was the premier program out there," Mr. Settle said of Mercedes´ decision to forge the partnership.
Participating students can expect decent pay.
"The starting ranges for AYES program technicians are in the range of $12 to $14 an hour," Mr. Settle said. Ten-year technicians with all of their training can make up to $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Rapidly changing technology has made the job of mechanic more demanding.
"We need a different technician that has good academic skills, good electronic and computer skills," Mr. Gray said.