At Quad City Peterbilt, we recognized that the diesel repair industry is growing at a faster pace than we can keep up with when it comes to filling open technician spots. The pace of growth in this sector combined with the technical nature of the product has led to a massive shortage of diesel technicians. We determined we would get a better response if we trained technicians rather than recruiting them from other dealerships and outside industries.
Pat Fells, our service manager, has been a longtime diesel program board member at Scott Community College. Enrollment at the school was down; if we wanted to get better class participation, we needed to get involved. So we set up a program for students to work at our dealership during evening hours while maintaining a full-time class load during the day. Our service manager works with the students to ensure that they are being placed in jobs that are similar to what they are learning so they get relevant hands-on experience. We have hosted the students at our location, provided tours, and held Q&A sessions with current employees so students see the benefits of working at a dealership.
How the Partnership Works
Students work at the dealership during their first year in school. This allows them to get a realistic feel for employment at a dealership. They also get to learn what we expect of them as team members; at the same time, they are earning a good wage. This time gives us an opportunity to vet each student as a possible long-term employee.
At the end of the first year, we evaluate each student. If the dealership and the student agree the relationship is beneficial, we continue employing them in their second year of training, and we begin reimbursing them partial tuition. Providing the student maintains a C average and misses fewer than five days of school/work during the second year we reimburse 50 percent of the student’s tuition costs for the year. The maximum financial aid from the dealership is $5,000 per student per year. In addition, each year we nominate our students for the Iowa Automobile Dealers Foundation’s scholarship program. This program allows for 18 scholarships of $2,500 each per year.
Thanks to the dealership’s partnership with Scott, students are more engaged in their college classes since they know they are working toward a career that will pay off in the long run. We benefit from a steady stream of new talent coming into our organization, and we know these students have the desire to succeed.
The partnership is a win for Scott Community College as well. The visibility of its diesel tech program increases as we visit area high schools and promote the partnership to local media. And the school recently received NATEF certification on our recommendation; as a result, enrollment and student placement rates are expected to rise.