Automotive techs are in demand and the demand is growing, according to Peter DeLacy, owner of DeLacy Ford in East Aurora, which is why the WNY Ford Dealers started a program three years ago to donate cars with "real world" experience to local high schools.
The goal is to help and encourage high school students with an interest in auto repair to stick with it as a career choice and gain valuable experience working on cars with some of the last technological advancements.
"They're often working on 15-year-old cars and there isn't much interest in working on cars that don't have the latest technology," DeLacy said.
Yesterday, the dealers donated at 2014 Ford Fusion to the automotive shop at BOCES.
"We rely on donations like this in order for our kids to get the best training possible so that when they leave school, they can go right out to the workforce and do the best they can," said BOCES in Batavia Principal Jon Sanfratello (speaking at the podium in the photo above).
The dealers pool their resources to acquire cars from Ford Credit that have come out of the lease program. Delacy said auto teachers want cars with some mileage on them and in need of some maintenance, not brand-new cars, for their students to work on. Once the dealers have ensured all auto shop programs in the region have cars, they will start a three- or four-year rotation process of providing newer slightly used vehicles to the schools so students always have close to the latest technology at their fingertips.
There isn't much about a Ford or a GM or a Toyota that is so proprietary that a student can't learn a broad range of applicable skills, regardless of which car it is, Delacy said. Many car components, and the technology today that enables and manages them, are built to government-mandated specifications, so when a tech hooks up a diagnostic computer to a car, the readout is the same regardless of the make or model.
"The diagnostic codes, how you access the primary powertrain control module, how you do all of these things is pretty much the same for all manufacturers," Delacy said.
The goal for the Ford dealers, of course, is to ensure as many young techs come out of high school and two years of college with an interest in working at Ford dealerships, but as long as there are more techs in the market, it's better for everybody.
"The technicians we have now, they’ve put their time in and they want to retire," Delacy said. "There’s not a big pool of talent to choose from, so knowing that the Ford dealers of Western New York, including myself, decided to ask, ‘where do we get technicians? How do we get them interested?’ Because a lot of people don’t want to get into that. They want to be other things and this is a very good pay program when you get into the dealership level."
It's a good career choice, Delacy said, because it's stable, it pays well and dealership jobs are good jobs, and since the only college required is couple of years at a community college, so the career makes sense financially.
"The great part is it's not a huge investment," Delacy said. "They don't have student loans to pay for five or 10 years. They’re out in the real world, earning real money, keeping their money and investing it, so we’re on the ground floor of great opportunity, allowing students to get a good education and they’re ready to go when they get out of college and they don’t have a huge debt load, so it’s a win-win-win for everybody."