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As leaves fall, AYES 'shadows' come out

November 23, 2010
As leaves fall, AYES 'shadows' come out

High school juniors enrolled in AYES-certified school curricula have embarked on job shadowing at area dealerships that participate in the Automotive Youth Educational Systems program, for the students to gauge their interest in pursuing careers as technicians. Getting the chance to observe the technicians at work and the dealership workplace in action will help the students over the next several months decide whether to pursue employment under the AYES initiative beginning next June.

The AYES partnership includes 10 vehicle manufacturers, about 300 high schools nationwide, 1,450 students this year, and dealers near those schools in a school-to-career partnership program to match student technicians with local dealers. Eligible students typically embark on internships during the summer before their high school senior year. Under the guidance of a mentor (an experienced technician), the students develop their technical skills so that, upon graduation, they can begin full-time entry-level employment.

All participating dealers agree to sponsor their new technicians in their manufacturer's training. Manufacturers provide most of the funding for AYES. "This is basically a give-back to dealers. The cost is so phenomenally low for dealers. If they need technicians, they're foolish not to get into this," said Jim Butcher, AYES manager for Illinois. Butcher, who began his position in July, meets with dealers, instructor associations and technician groups to bring everybody to the table.

The headquarters of AYES are in Troy, Mich.; Butcher keeps an office at the CATA in Oakbrook Terrace. The CATA helps fund his position. Call Butcher at 630-424-6020 to discuss AYES and schedule a presentation. Forecasts indicate the automotive industry in five years will face a shortage of 75,000 technicians who are qualified to work on emerging, sophisticated systems. "Dealers are stealing each others technicians," Butcher said. "We're trying to stop that with AYES."