As the demand for new automotive technicians continues to be an industry talking point, the ability to reach them – even if English isn’t their native tongue – is proving to be a valuable asset for schools. The recognition that these resources are available can prove to be even more beneficial to shops.
In North Kansas City, Missouri, one school system is finding that the universal language of cars helps it transcend certain communications challenges between students and teachers. When North Kansas City Schools opened its Auto Tech program nearly 30 years ago, the mission was to help students learn job-ready skills during their high school years. Over the ensuing years, that goal has been achieved by hundreds of students who have found jobs at metro auto repair shops as successful certified technicians.
Instructors in the program say students from non-traditional backgrounds are making their jobs more interesting – and the results are impressive.
North Kansas City Auto Tech Instructor Jack Stow says he is working with students whose parents and families are completing the process of becoming U.S. citizens. The seniors are rapidly progressing to being skilled employees in local businesses – perhaps someday even their own – and several students in particular have such a passion for excellence that it can’t help but rub off on his other students.
Auto Tech instructors are quick to praise the students for their dedication and commitment to passing the exams while learning to speak English. They continue to work tirelessly at mastering a second language, in addition to the automotive technology.
In addition to inspiring the other students, Stow says he has committed to improving his own methods as well. “I have been exposed to new ways of thinking,” says Stow. “Two of these kids – in particular, one from Mexico and one from Bosnia and Herzegovina – do things with a different flair. They’ve taught me new ways to communicate and given me a different lens through which to see things. I’m a better teacher for having these two boys in my class.”
Stow and his fellow instructors believe this effort by their students will prove equally valuable to a shop looking for an eager employee who can help bridge the communication gap with potential customers who may not speak English as a primary language.
“These kids have an amazing work ethic because they have seen the world in a way we never will,” Stow says. “They appreciate opportunity and they see opportunity in places other students might not. They are not afraid to jump in and get to work. I never have to tell them to grab a broom or clean up their work area, it’s a part of who they are. All this and more is what hiring someone like this can bring to a company.”
The future of the industry is solidly in hands of instructors like Jack Stow and his students. Forward-thinking shops who explore the opportunities in their own local programs will be the first to communicate in this universal language once the next generation of committed graduates enters the workforce.
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This article was sponsored by Continental.