By Kady Cramer
In today’s climate of employee shortages, dealerships are not exempt from struggling to fill key service technician roles.
“With staff shortages being so much worse in technical trade industries, a lot of places just say please come work for me. I’ll pay you more, I’ll show you what I need to show you, and you don’t have to worry about going to school,” says Jack Ireland, Johnson County Community College (JCCC) Faculty Chair of Automotive Technology.
That’s why Molle Toyota, in collaboration with the Automotive Technology Program at Johnson County Community College, has aided in the launch of a new certification within the department called the Technician Education College Support (TECS) program.
“The last few years it has been hard trying to recruit,” says Molle’s Fixed Operations Director Justin Ayers. “Then we started to go speak at high schools and vo-tech programs and that’s when [the idea for the program] first started.”
The program became a brainchild between the college and Molle’s downtown regional office in the Fall of 2021, and Molle Toyota’s service department was immediately on board with the launch in Spring of 2022.
The TECS certification program is housed within the degree-seeking curriculum of the Automotive Technology department. Students complete eight different online modules over two semesters, giving them their initial maintenance qualifications that Toyota expects their entry level technicians to have. The modules are introduced in courses teaching skills such as brakes, steering and suspension.
“When it’s on your resume that you’ve completed that level of training in addition to your schooling, it just makes a statement for your commitment to the craft.”
Molle Toyota supports the program by attending all meetings with JCCC, and providing support in the form of tools, engines and other equipment.
“Molle is willing to work with students to finish their schooling while they’re working in their dealership and that’s key,” says Ireland. “Molle has really embraced the idea of growing their own. They take entry level people; they permit them to go to school and are still giving them on-the-job experience so they’re getting the best of both worlds. And that’s really what allows a person…a student…to grow.”
Getting out in front of the current hiring challenges, Molle has also hired a full-time acquisition manager/recruiter to help with the responsibilities of creating and cultivating relationships with local students and learning facilities.
Molle has already taken on 10 students in the last 8 months, either currently in the TECS program or just finishing up. The program has seen approximately 50-55 students enter the program each semester it’s been available.
“We have not lost one student hire yet. We’re at a 100% retention rate from the TECS program,” says Ayers.
High school graduate Brian Ramos was hired through the program and has worked at Molle Toyota for six months. “I like working at Toyota because it’s fast paced and the people seem to care about my learning,” Ramos said. “My goals are to continue to grow my skills and become a certified tech eventually.”
Molle Toyota was recognized in the December issue of Toyota Today, a national publication, for partnering with area schools to recruit and hire service department technicians.