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High schoolers to embark on technician internships

November 24, 2010
Dealers needed for AYES program

Area high school juniors are preparing for yearlong internships that commence in June as dealership technicians- in-training. The instruction is coordinated under the Automotive Youth Educational Systems.

More than two dozen students have been matched with 25 area new-car dealerships, but the area's four high schools enrolled in the AYES program have even more students that cannot be placed because of a lack of dealers in the program. Under AYES, participating dealers get involved with nearby technical schools, sitting on curriculum planning boards, funding classroom improvements and offering technician jobs to program graduates. Mentors, usually journeyman technicians, help the students during their internships. 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 Chicago Automobile Trade Association'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 Other local schools in AYES include Lake County High School in Grayslake, Technology Center of DuPage in Addison, and Currie Metropolitan High School in Chicago. The four schools have about 50 students participating in AYES, but only half have been placed for upcoming internships. Eighteen high school seniors are nearing completion of their training.

"Dealer participation is absolutely vital to this program," said Terry D'Arcy, the CATA director who is leading the association's AYES participation. "The benefits for dealers from AYES are enormous. From what I've seen, investment in this program is returned tenfold."

The CATA is in talks with Illinois officials and the National Automobile Dealers Association about sharing the salary requirements of a local AYES administrator. The move recognizes the dearth of technicians and the need to attract candidates in their formative years. The AYES program is important because 25 percent of 18-year-olds say they already have selected a career path.

Exposing the interns to dealership work could sway them to a career there.

In a study commissioned last summer by Automotive Retailing Today, just 2 percent of all teen-agers indicated a desire to work as an automotive technician. (A career in health care ranked highest, at 18 percent of the respondents, and 10 percent were undecided.)

"But 65 percent said that they would be more likely to seek a career as a technician when they heard that, as master technicians, they can make $70,000 to $100,000 a year doing something that can give them a great deal of job satisfaction," said Jim Willingham, chairman of ART.

"Anyone interested in job security and in making a very good income has a world of opportunity in the auto service and retailing industry," he said.