Hello. My name is Harlan Wrenn, head of the Diesel Technician Program for Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC). In 2007 I was elected President of the Virginia chapter of the North American Council of Automotive teachers (NACAT). I’d like to talk about what this means to you and me.
We all know that rapid technological advances, older workers leaving the workforce, and expansion within the transportation industry have created critical shortages in the available numbers of properly-trained, entry-level technicians in the automotive, diesel, and collision technology fields. Dealerships don’t have time to train the trainee and are looking for technicians who can begin working productively right away. Students graduating today from schools and training programs throughout Virginia and the rest of the country require constantly upgraded, modernized training to acquire the advanced skills and knowledge to meet these vital industrial needs. Knowledgeable, capable instructors are essential to meet that challenge.
There is a whole, new perspective on the old shop classes. In the past, they mostly had students who weren’t interested in or capable of, regular studies. Now, the students are mostly computer-literate and familiar with technology, meaning we constantly have to provide a challenge. Not only are we going to have to educate ourselves better; we are going to have to utilize modern equipment and tomorrow’s technology today.
What really concerns me is the lack of training that we, the instructors, are receiving. The constant industry changes, government mandates and modernization that affect our daily teaching requirements increase not only the need for monies to purchase modern training aids and equipment, but to fund refresher/update training for instructors. If the money is available, instructors must then find the sources and time in their already-full schedules to ensure they are prepared to provide the higher level of training to students.
The individual educator often makes little headway when trying to obtain funds for equipment or justify instructor training. A partnership of educators, working together to promote better understanding and resolution of the issues while providing encouragement and support to one another, is the obvious answer. This need recently prompted a number of teachers and instructors to start the Virginia chapter of NACAT. One of the chapter’s primary goals is to obtain training for the trainers from auto, truck, and equipment manufacturers. As a group, we can schedule training and keep current with the changes within our different areas of student education.
Alone, we can do little to make this happen; together, we can pool our resources, knowledge and willingness to better educate our students. If you agree with us, please consider joining the Virginia NACAT Chapter. $50.00 a year is a small price to pay for the information, personal training, encouragement and support. We value your input—feel free to call or email me or any other member.
Thanks and have a great day!