From The Tech Director - December - 2019

How Do We Get Young People Into The Industry? Mentoring The Next Generation

from the Tech director cover

Hi, I’m Lance Wiggins, I’m Generation X! I listen to alternative music, love coffee and if there’s a system to buck, I’m your man! I like wearing sweatpants under my shorts with boots and a short sleeve shirt. Don’t forget the flannel wrapped around my waist. Occasionally I’ll brush my hair and don’t worry, literally, I don’t worry!

Like most of us, we have been or heard of titles. It started when people, science, or psychologists decided they need to categorized people. First it was Great, traditionalist or Silent Generation then Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennials or Gen Y, and now you’re either Gen Z, iGen or Centennials…UGH!

So what did I just tell you? Really… nothing that matters! As a matter of fact it doesn’t matter what category you’re in as long as you can recognize what you want as an outcome.

So, “How do we get young people into the industry”? With that one simple statement ATRA has provided many EXPO presentations on this very subject.

  • Attitude Adjustment – 2010
  • Transformational Thinking – 2011
  • First Impressions – 2012
  • Marketing Service to Gen X and Y – 2013
  • Chemistry Lessons for a Muti-Generational Workforce – 2014
  • Generations – 2015
  • Apprentices and Mentors – 2016
  • Building Decision Makers – 2017
  • Building a Winning Culture – 2018

What all these have in common is identifying who you are and what they are. For those that have attended these EXPO presentations you may already be enjoying the benefits of mentors.

So here’s your lesson for today, if you want to get younger people in your shop as employees, YOU MUST mentor them.

There is an abundance of schools that offer automotive classes, but unless you reach out to these schools you’ll never know. Joe Rivera, Pro-Torque, and I were talking about mentoring people and how important it is. To me, it’s like coaching, you see, nobody knows anything until they are taught, and the really good lessons come when you’re allowed to fail.

To mentor a student into our business takes more than just a “here you go kid, wash these parts and let me know when you’re done”. It takes time, effort, accountability and drive. What’s the old adage, “you’re only going get what you put into it”.

Students have a very different view of you and your shop. You also have a different view of the student coming into the shop. Let’s see if this sounds familiar.

YOU: You contact a local school, ask them to send over their best student. You’re looking for the best!

SCHOOL: No problem, I have just the person, they’re smart, well rounded and full of energy, definitely willing to learn.

You couldn’t be happier. The day comes and your new student arrives. Reality check; no tools, too many questions, no time to help or answer said questions. Here’s some parts, clean these up and let me know when you’re done!

Here’s another alternative to this problematic journey, offer the school some time allotments. Simply put, let the students come to your shop as an apprentice, mentor them over a course of two to three weeks or more. Only a couple three to four hours a day or week for that matter. If they grow on you, hire them, if not do it all over again until you find one that works.

As a coach, whether it’s sports or life, you have to find the right play, say the right thing then implement the play. Having an apprentice gives you options. It allows you to have a relationship with the school. It allows you the opportunity to work with someone new every so often teaching them your craft. It’s said that to become the master you must teach.

I’ve had so many mentors in my life, truly blessed to say that even now I still have mentors that teach me something every day. I guarantee you will like mentoring these students if you just gave it a shot.

The more we give back to new generations, the better off we will be. Trust me, my mom is a baby boomer, I’m Gen X, my children are Millennials, Gen Y, Gen Z, iGen and Centennials. I got this!

Oh and one more thing, not only will you like teaching these younger students, rumor has it, it’s like turning back the age clock!