BLOOMINGDALE — One local company is “TEAM”-ing up with the auto service technology program at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School in ventures that are proving to be a win-win for both groups.
TEAM Automotive Group of Steubenville implemented the Toyota Technical Education College Support program last fall, which allows AST students to finish online modules to earn general maintenance certification and an advantage for the workforce. Juniors Jerome Coniker and Elijah Foster completed the course and have been employed while eight other students were enrolled in the program.
Ryan Westling, fixed operations manager, said the company partnered with the JVS and the students who completed TECS were hired as full-time workers. They received TEAM apparel and $100 gift cards for their participation from company officials and Westling said the purpose of the collaboration is to provide marketable employees to fill a growing industry need.
“We are a big proponent of the JVS,” he added, saying there was a work shortage. “They can make an amazing living and there is a major need for technicians.”
Coniker and Foster, who completed the online program in 10 days, said they were grateful for the experience with TEAM as well as their education at the JVS.
“It’s great,” Coniker said. “(AST Instructor Ron) Reasoner also has a lot of knowledge he’s shared and really helps give me opportunities and got me connections.”
“I like it,” Foster added, saying the skills he’s gained at JVS definitely prepared him. “(It has helped with) learning how to do all the tasks that I do at work. I never would have known all of that without being here.”
TEAM also donated a V-6 power-train engine and AC compressor cutaway to help train students so they become familiar with some of the more modern components.
Rob Velte, field technical specialist and representative for Toyota Motor Sales USA, said the engines are purchased from various locations and donated to schools and for in-house training with dealer technicians, but this was a first for the JVS. The AST students will have an opportunity to learn how to repair the engine so they could do the same when working in the real world.
“This will be used for training by the students next year and for years to come,” he added.
Reasoner said the Toyota program and engine donation will provide his students with a chance to get ready for the field.
“This is a training platform that gives them the ability to practice concepts. It’s very important to have the equipment when they train on specific components,” Reasoner added. “(Having the engine) is a big opportunity for the students. It helps teach them the latest and greatest technology and we’ll definitely use it next year.”
The local dealership has seven JVS graduates employed full-time at local facilities in addition to three current pupils and officials invite other students and their families to visit for a behind-the-scenes look at operations to determine if it is a future career option.