The automotive department at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology welcomed parents, students, and auto dealers and managers of garages from the area to an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Dominion Dodge, Berglund Chevrolet, Berglund Ford, Virginia Truck Center, and James River Equipment each had representatives to answer questions about the field and to take applications for internships and jobs.
Following a presentation on the Automotive Youth Education Systems-a program that offers ACE certification (specialized and general standardized tests for automotive technicians) to high school juniors and seniors, the gathering ate dinner together, then proceeded to the garage to peruse vehicles from each company that attended.
“Finding and keeping qualified technicians is tough,” said Jim Hosey, service manager at Berglund Chevrolet. The program gives high school juniors the opportunity to intern with a shop, and also gives garages the opportunity to recruit employees. The earlier presentation highlighted the growing need for recruiting and retaining auto mechanics and technicians-jobs traditionally stigmatized as low paying and low skill levels. Today’s vehicles have complicated wiring systems that require knowledge of computers, electric currents, and endless safety features.
“My job is to help get these guys employed when they leave high school,” automotive instructor Joe Moore said. Two recent graduates of the program spoke at the event, Cody Allison and Michael Carder. Both are gainfully employed at local dealerships after attending J. Sargent Reynolds Community College in Richmond. Allison is now one step away from being a senior master technician for Ford vehicles.