Volkswagen recognizes the need for vehicles to be in the hands of students to help educate and equip tomorrow’s technicians with the tools necessary for future employment.
Over the next few months, Volkswagen will donate 31 Atlas SUVs and diagnostics equipment to trade schools and career centers across the country.
The goal? To help address the growing need for trained automotive technicians who understand both the hardware and the increasingly complex software in modern vehicles. With such skills in high demand by many industries, simply learning the nuts and bolts of automotive repair no longer suffices.
“There is a national shortage of technicians, and it’s expected to grow as many technicians are, or are very close to, retirement age. We have to start looking for avenues to backfill these individuals,” says Jon Meredith, Volkswagen national service operations manager.
Today, more than 770,000 people work as automotive technicians and mechanics across the country, according to federal government estimates. While the overall number of roles remains steady, federal labor experts and the automotive industry estimate the need for new technicians at tens of thousands of workers per year just to maintain current openings – demand that’s greater than what trade schools can currently supply with graduates.
“As an industry, we need to come up with different ways of thinking and doing to attract young people to this industry,” Meredith added. As a vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen sees tremendous value in partnering with dealers and the technical and trade schools in their markets to bring both the Volkswagen product and diagnostic equipment to the younger generation considering a career in the automotive industry.
The Volkswagen ODIS software used to diagnose and update vehicles would normally have to be purchased directly from Volkswagen under the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act and would be out of reach of many programs. The selected schools will also collaborate with local dealerships to provide supplemental assistance and instruction on the donated equipment.
Darin Lewis, an automotive instructor at Ohio’s Medina County Career Center, says the Volkswagen Atlas and software will be the newest vehicle in his school’s training fleet by a decade.
“It goes far beyond donating a physical car. With the technology, they are providing their entry-level curriculum,” Lewis says. “I look back when I was in school and you were either a Ford guy or a Chevy guy. Those days are long gone.
“To have something that’s the latest and greatest out there – and to be able to show students, ‘This is where the industry is headed’ – is important.”