In the automotive industry, finding skilled and motivated talent is crucial for the success of your dealership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an average of 67,700 openings for automotive technicians over the next decade. To meet the growing demand for these automotive professionals, forward-thinking dealerships are turning to community colleges and local high school technical programs as valuable sources of fresh talent.
By building stronger relationships with these educational institutions, you can not only secure a steady pipeline of skilled auto techs but also contribute to the development of your local communities. Explore the benefits of such partnerships and provide practical strategies for auto dealers looking to establish and maintain fruitful connections with community colleges and high school technical programs.
The value of partnering with educational institutions
Before delving into strategies, let’s first understand why building relationships with community colleges and high school technical programs is a win-win for your auto dealership.
Access to skilled talent
Community colleges and technical programs often produce graduates who are equipped with the specific skills and certifications to start a career as an automotive technician that your dealership needs. By forging partnerships, you can tap into this pool of freshly trained professionals, saving time and resources on on-the-job training and recruiting spend.
Local community engagement
Supporting educational institutions in your community not only benefits your dealership but also helps to strengthen local ties. It enhances your dealership’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, fostering trust and goodwill among residents — which will, in turn, lead to more job seekers being interested in working for you.
Influence on curriculum
By collaborating closely with schools, dealerships can have a say in shaping the curriculum to align with their specific needs. With the automotive space moving towards electric vehicles, this would allow you to help students get ahead of the trend by having them start training for the specific skills and knowledge these types of vehicles require. As these cars get more popular, dealerships will have more demand for technicians who know how to service them. Influencing the curriculum ensures that graduates are better prepared to meet the unique demands of the automotive industry so they can find a job faster after graduation while helping dealerships mitigate the ongoing labor shortages.
Diversity and inclusion
Partnering with educational institutions can also promote diversity and inclusion at your dealership. It encourages students from various backgrounds to consider careers in the automotive industry simply by having equal access to these learning programs, contributing to a more dynamic and representative workforce.
Now that we understand the value of these partnerships, let’s explore how you can go about establishing and nurturing them.
Strategies for building relationships with educational institutions
Attend career fairs and workshops
Community colleges and high schools often host career fairs and workshops to give their students the opportunity to practice interacting with professionals. You should participate in these events to connect with students directly, showcase your dealership’s culture and job opportunities, and provide insights into the automotive industry.
Offer internships and apprenticeships
Create internship and apprenticeship programs that allow students to gain real-world experience while contributing to your dealership’s operations. These programs serve as a hands-on learning experience and can lead to full-time employment.
Support scholarship programs
Consider sponsoring scholarships for students pursuing automotive-related degrees or certifications. This not only demonstrates your commitment to education but also helps attract top talent to your dealership.
Collaborate on curriculum development
Engage with educators and administrators to provide input on the curriculum. Share your industry knowledge to ensure that students are learning the latest skills and technologies relevant to the automotive sector so that they can find gainful employment as a technician after graduation as quickly as possible.
Establish mentorship programs
Mentorship programs can be highly effective in nurturing talent. Pair experienced employees from your dealership with students, offering guidance and support as they navigate their educational journey.
Host facility tours and guest lectures
Invite students and instructors to visit your dealership for facility tours or guest lectures. This hands-on exposure to the industry can ignite students’ passion and provide a clearer understanding of what a career in the automotive field entails.
Participate in advisory boards
Many educational institutions have advisory boards that help shape the direction of their programs. Join these boards to provide industry expertise and guidance, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the workforce.
Foster long-term relationships
Building strong connections with educational institutions is not a one-time effort. Cultivate long-term relationships by maintaining open communication, regularly participating in events, and celebrating student successes.
Building better relationships with community colleges and high school technical programs is a strategic move that can benefit auto dealerships in numerous ways. It not only provides access to new automotive tech talent but also enhances community engagement, supports diversity and inclusion, and allows dealerships to influence education to align with their needs.
For a look inside the modern automotive job seeker’s mind, download our 2023 State of Automotive Hiring Report.