The modern auto repair shop at a dealership is much different than the dimly lit, dingy, disorganized repair shops of yesteryear.
The repair shop at Jaguar Land Rover in Mahwah looks more like a hospital operating room, except cars are the patients.
It is brightly lit, organized, spotless and filled with electronic diagnostic equipment.
Willis said entry-level employees have a variety of experience.
Some have previous work experience at an independent dealership, others attended post-secondary technical schools and some come directly from vocational-technical schools.
Perth Amboy Tech and the other county vocational-technical schools throughout the state align their automotive technology programs with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE, the industry group that certifies automotive professionals.
High school students are able to earn entry level certifications as part of their automotive technology program.
“The motivation for us to find technicians at the vocational school level is because they already have been exposed to the core basic curriculum that’s required as the foundation learning for our programs,” Willis said.
“Our technician apprentice program relies on candidates coming in with some experience so they don’t get lost and we have to retrain them with all the basics skills,” Willis said. “We want to build on the education that they received from the vocational school.”
Jaguar Land Rover has four levels of training for its technicians.
Technicians typically start at Level Zero. Upon completion of the 12-week Technician Apprenticeship Program, Miranda earned Level 2 certification and has also completed several Level 3 classroom courses to become a Level 3 associate technician — completing a career path in three months that can take as long as three years.
Willis said Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC is looking to create collaborative partnerships with other county vocational schools.This training program is a path for automotive technology students to become a Level 1 certified Jaguar Land Rover Technician while still in school.
“When students graduate, they can hit the ground running and be that much more accelerated on their path to becoming a Jaguar Land Rover technician,” Willis said.
Starting as an auto mechanic is a good entry point for a career in the automotive industry, Willis said.
“The technician’s career is very wide and diverse. The career ladder at a Jaguar Land Rover retailer can take you anywhere within the business,” Willis said. “About 80% of all the service managers and upper management personnel at a retailer have been technicians at one time.”