DICKSON CITY, Pennsylvania — Gibbons Ford in Dickson City, Pennsylvania, is using its recently opened quick oil-change facility to recruit high school students who eventually will train as auto technicians.
The program addresses the shortage of experienced auto technicians.
The dealership, located about two hours north of Philadelphia, opened a new showroom and service center in late January. At the same time, it began recruiting high school students to work part time in its new Quick Lane facility, which handles oil-and-filter changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, battery tests and other auto-related service.
The attraction for the student is those with talent and initiative working in the Quick Lane facility will be given an opportunity to be trained as an engine, transmission or a technician in another field of their choosing in Gibbons' service department.
"For those who want the opportunity to advance and to get more into the depths of the vehicle, they certainly have the opportunity and it has worked well," Darryl Jayne, Gibbons Ford general manager, told Edmunds.com. "I believe we have had two or three that have gone full time with us and moved into the main shop."
Gibbons Ford is growing. The service business has increased, and the number of service technicians stands at 19, up from 12 at the former facility. But more qualified technicians are needed.
The dealership has had an arrangement for several years with Johnson College, a technical college in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that offers an associate degree in automotive technology.
The instructors at Johnson College "know what we like, they know the type of individual we want, and they always kept their eyes open for the right person," Jayne said.
But the job opportunities for skilled, trained service technicians in the area are outpacing the number of qualified candidates. That prompted Gibbons Ford to woo interested high school students to its Quick Lane center from Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County, a vocational high school also in Scranton.
The advantage for Quick Lane's students is that if interested and qualified, they eventually are transferred to the service department. There they can select the service field they find interesting, for example, gasoline engine, electrification, transmission, or other service-related categories, and begin training, some of which may be conducted by Ford Motor Company.
"It is really an open opportunity all the way through. It is up to the individual to seek his expertise," Jayne said. For example, "if an individual feels as though they have a knack for the electrical portion of the vehicle, I would certainly think it is up to him and his supervisor to say, I think this is a good direction for you."
At this moment, however, Jayne needs diesel technicians, which is where Johnson College comes into play.
"Typically you start (there) with a gasoline engine, learn the basics, and then move into a diesel mode if you will. That usually attracts a technician who is more apt to just want to get in there and really get down and dirty with the vehicle," he said. The dealership currently has two openings.
As for the future, Jayne plans to continue to use the Quick Lane operation for many years to attract students from two schools. Vacations, retirements and dismissals will require a continued flow of new technicians, he said.
"I believe there is always going to be a room for advancement and a need for a new technician," Jayne said. "It is a dying breed, but what is nice about going to the schools that offer these programs, you are finding individuals who want to be technicians."
Edmunds says: Expect other dealerships to follow this excellent example by creating opportunities in their quick lube and oil change operations.