Palestine Toyota Has Started a Technician Training & Apprenticeship Program

Monday, November 18, 2019

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Workforce training is important for Palestine Toyota, and other companies where the skilled trades are necessary for daily operations. Knowing that there is a large technician shortage – 40,000 technicians are needed in the coming years, Chuck Eldridge decided to start a program to train students to become the technicians the company will need. 

Chuck Eldridge and his partners have successfully piloted the program in other areas and were excited to bring it to Palestine. “It helps students to find out if they would be interested in becoming a technician upon graduating. Those who do can enter our summer apprenticeship program where they are paid to learn, and they get a job after graduating and becoming certified. For those who do not see themselves going to college, becoming a technician is a good career,” said Chuck. 

The Program

Students are recruited for the program who have already expressed that they do not see college as being the best fit for them. “Many students are taking college courses in high school and are on the path to earn their degree. We don’t want to take them off that path. Instead, we are looking to provide an alternative option to students who want to start working right away, without going to school. We give them hands on experience with learning the trade and that benefits everyone. It engages local students and they can earn a certificate faster after graduation which is good for their career and income earning potential. This is a win-win-win for everyone,” said Chuck. 

They have cultivated this with several schools and have a handful of students going through the program. Currently, students are being trained at their shop, but in the future this could lead to a full auto mechanic program at the school and maybe even an ASE certification course, or something similar. Chuck Eldridge hopes to see a full trade school in Palestine where students could graduate with the certificates they need to do well in the workforce, thinking this program may be the first step in that direction.  

“Another benefit of the program is that students learn soft skills like how to change a tire or check their oil. This helps them as adults, even if they do not become technicians,” said Chuck. 

Economic Benefits for Palestine

Recruiting workers from outside of the area can be difficult, and many of them don’t stay long term, opting to return home instead. This makes training local students and building a pipeline of local talent, the wiser solution. From an economic perspective there are many benefits of keeping students in Palestine after graduation. First, they already love it here because Palestine is home. This means they are more likely to want to stay in the community and give back to the community with their time and resources as they get older. In addition, if they have jobs in Palestine, the money they make is staying local, which helps to pay for schools and roads, as well as to support other local businesses that they purchase goods or services from. 

Palestine Economic Development

The Palestine Economic Development organization is working with other local businesses to promote workforce training. We have hosted several meetings and will continue to support programs like the one started by Palestine Toyota, because, training our future workforce is in everyone’s best interest. 

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