Hiring students while they are still in school is a great way to foster a loyalty between the student worker and your company. You get the opportunity to better understand their abilities and how they can develop in your service areas. When implemented correctly, this can create a steady pipeline of talent for your business. Keep in mind that this is not a typical part-time job at the “golden arches”. These are individuals who are studying for a career in our industry. They are a precious commodity.
“Work-based learning” refers to a particular kind of part-time job, where students are paired with an experienced technician who serves as their workplace mentor, and the job tasks they undertake correspond to and reinforce the learning taking place in school. Furthermore, good work-based learning includes ongoing discussions among the employer, the student, their mentor, and the instructor on what is going well and what needs improvement, so that remediation can take place as quickly as possible.
Work-based learning, or WBL, appeals to both high school, community college, and tech school students because it provides them with an opportunity to combine classroom knowledge with practical on-the-job experience. When these students graduate, they will be better prepared to join an employer as a productive full-time entry-level technician. The student’s experience with your service or collision department is an essential part of that preparation. The school will do its part in teaching the basics, but the workplace “classroom” extends to your service bays. You and the students you sponsor make a commitment that is different from the normal employment relationship. Because they join you with little or no work experience, you assume a greater responsibility for their learning. And you’ll need to spend more time guiding these young people in developing personal qualities like integrity, self-direction, and the ability to work with others. Remember, they have not completed their education and are still in their formative years.
The students have a big stake in this unique relationship, too. For many of them, the experience in your service or collision department is a first entry into the world of work. Unlike more seasoned workers, they have little or no experience to fall back on. They are more dependent on you and other employees for direction. It’s always important to select employees for your department carefully. And because of your special relationship with these students, it’s just as important to make thoughtful choices about them, too.
“Growing your own” comes with its own challenges, but you have partners in this who are rooting for your success, namely the student, their parents, and their educators. See the sections below for different activities you can pursue to begin building your own pipeline of well-qualified entry-level employees.
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