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AYES needs local dealers to succeed

November 24, 2010

Local dealerships that participate in the Automotive Youth Educational Services program uniformly are pleased with their involvement, but many more dealerships are needed to participate. Just half of the 60 AYES students at four area high schools have been placed at 25 new-car dealerships for year-long student technician internships that begin in June. Basic technician skills are emphasized in AYES.

Two upcoming events could convince more dealerships to enroll in AYES. Two dozen service managers will join a job fair for high school seniors April 21 at Libertyville Toyota, an AYES advocate. Other dealerships are welcome to attend, 3-6 p.m. that day. Interested parties should call Rick Stevens at 847-223- 7216. And a special AYES Dealer Mentor Training session will be held May 2 at Chicago's Farragut Career Academy, one of the participating high schools.

For information about AYES, call the CATA's David Sloan at 630-424-6055. To reserve a seat at the session, call Jim Foley at Farragut, 773- 534-1300, or visit the AYES Web site at www.ayes.org/ Libertyville Toyota has welcomed five AYES students since the program sprouted in this market two years ago. This summer, the dealership welcomes three new students, including one female. At Libertyville Toyota, each student is grouped with five technicians who take turns supervising the student.

"The AYES program lends itself better to a team atmosphere," said service director Ben Mennella. "The group leader gets a free set of hands to move tires and do other tasks, and the students are paid hourly, so you don't have to book them. "That gives work relief to the mentor, who is your best technician, so he can work quicker and sell more. And he's selling the right work, not just oil changes. The student gets good habits working with a mature guy who makes a good living." "The two young fellows I've hired are quality people," said Bob Colwell, formerly the service director and now general manager of Biggers Chevrolet-Isuzu in Elgin. "

It seems they're serious about pursuing a career in the business." Colwell said one of his student techs has mild dyslexia but has improved his grades since enrolling in AYES. "It's an investment, and the return on investment is not great in the beginning. But that doesn't last very long," Colwell said. "It's just that service directors want instant gratification: 'What do I get out of this now?' "I am a huge proponent of AYES," Colwell said. "We're facing a shortage of 65,000 technicians. We have to start growing them."

 

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