GM Goodwrench's Expertise Challenge contest during this year's NASCAR season had a unique provision that created a $200,000 scholarship fund for qualifying Automotive Youth Educational System (AYES) students to pursue post-secondary college degrees in automotive service technology. The national GM campaign required race driver Kevin Harvick to win two of twelve designated races during the season to trigger the scholarship fund. Harvick won his second race on November 15, which created the fund. Twenty-nine AYES students will earn a scholarship award to one of the 66 community colleges that offer the GM Automotive Service Educational Program initiative.
Through its dealership and school partners, AYES strives to enhance the public image of dealerships and dealership careers, build local partnerships between dealerships and high quality schools, and foster positive working environments in dealerships. Dealerships today are in competition for qualified employees, not only among themselves, but also among restaurants, mass marketers, other retail outlets and other professions. Dealerships need to reach out to young people and their parents to explain the challenge and rewards of pursuing a retail automotive career. AYES is helping in this effort by providing "how to" ideas and support materials on conducting dealership tours for educators and youngsters, offering "job shadowing" opportunities, and taking part in "career days" and "career fairs" at local schools.
Standards and Responsibilities
The high schools and vocational-technical schools selected for AYES have ASE-certified automotive programs and have active chapters of SkillsUSA-VICA. Some also have certified collision/refinish programs. In addition to promoting automotive careers at the local level, participating dealerships are asked to get involved with their school's Business & Education Council, sponsor one or more students for paid internships, and underwrite the cost of AYES Tool Scholarships for their interns, thereby reducing the financial burden of assembling good quality starter tool sets, which can be a significant hurdle for prospective young technicians.
How Students Grow into Professionals
Qualified high school juniors are invited to take part in AYES. In addition to taking the required academic courses toward their high school degrees, they'll take challenging classroom/laboratory courses in basic automotive technology or collision repair & refinish. Through their participation in SkillsUSA-VICA, they'll strengthen their "employability" skills (e.g., dependability, positive attitude, spirit of teamwork). Typically, eligible students will begin their internships at a dealership on a full-time basis during the summer between their junior and senior years. Under the guidance of a "mentor" (an experienced technician), they'll develop both their technical skills and their skills as valuable employees. Upon high school graduation and AYES certification, participating students are prepared to begin full-time entry-level employment, or to advance their technical education.
AYES is designed with continuing professional development in mind. Many participating dealerships anticipate sponsoring their students in manufacturer-supported college-level programs, such as the Daimler-Chrysler CAP, GM ASEP, Honda PACT, Toyota T-TEN, or certificate programs offered by Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Through their AYES experiences, most students come to realize the importance of continuing their professional development, either through a college degree program or through manufacturer-provided training.
AYES currently has more than 380 schools on its roster and approximately 3800 dealers supporting the initiative in 45 states.