Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.
Mark, who has been with the business for
over 20 years, is an ASE
Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE
L1 certification, and has an associates degree
in business management.
(Printed in the Journal
of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP)
This January, I attended another Automotive Youth Educational Systems, (AYES), meeting at our local vocational high school. The AYES program was developed to bring young automotive vocational students into the workplace before graduation to help facilitate learning. In essence, it operates on the philosophy of "growing your own technicians." The students shadow full time technicians in local shops and dealerships. After the shadow program ends the student may desire after school hours and summer employment at one of the shops they worked at. The shop has the option of hiring the student on an intern basis. All AYES shops agree to pay the students the same predetermined hourly amount. This keeps fairness by eliminating money as an incentive to work at a particular shop.
At a meeting in 2001, we hotly debated a rate increase. At that time, several shop service managers did not want to raise the student's rate which had been frozen at $7.00 per hour for the past several years. They cited several reasons against the increase: This area's economy is depressed, the shop overhead is high enough already, etc. Back then, I thought the rate should be raised and expressed my reasons: Our state's minimum wage is at $6.75, the students are $0.25 from flipping hamburgers. The fast food business is much less labor, brain and equipment intensive. What painful bodily positions must they contort into each day in that field? What scan- tool software do they have to learn? What tool box do they need to fill with self-purchased expensive tools? What night training do they have to attend and how often? After all, what incentive is there for a student to "want to" enter the automotive trade? At the end of that meeting, a majority vote brought the rate up to $8.00 per hour.
Now, at this current meeting I was attending, the hourly wage again came up as well as the current outlook of the 2004 automotive student body. The instructor was disheartened, yet honest with us about the current automotive student "caliber." Out of about 60 possible junior and senior candidates, only two students were seriously interested in interning at local shops. Many of the other students did not even want to fill out the proper AYES documentation or did not qualify due to poor grades or attendance. Poor grades or attendance? You only need a minimum grade of 70 to be considered for the AYES program! If the student can't even get a 70, do you really want them at your shop? Better yet, why is that student even enrolled in automotive technology? It's obvious this is definitely not going to be a banner year for "growing your own" students. I guess our shop is fortunate in that we are not looking for another technician right now. Even when the school has a decent size class of interested students it is getting ever more difficult to get them to stay in, let alone enter this field. Lets face it, these students know the motto "work smarter not harder." There are plenty of careers out their that require less work and offer more pay. This job has got to have at least some incentive, some reason to do it. We live and work in an industry that has survived on the fact that some people out their "did it" because they loved cars. That pool of the population has all but dried up. The people in this industry are no different from anyone else. We can't expect any more people to accept substandard income just because it was always that way and they won't know any better. Their really smart people and they have the same bills to pay if not more. At the end of the meeting we finally voted to raise the hourly AYES student rate to $10.00 per hour for 2004.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will be a factor in drawing more students into our industry through the AYES program.