Project Shift targets middle-schoolers for service tech careers

“The No. 1 thing that every dealer says is, ‘I could use an extra technician or two,’ ” said Michelle Johnson, senior manager of technician development and recruitment at Nissan North America, one of the collaborative’s partners.

It’s not as if Nissan hasn’t been trying. Its Nissan Technician Training Academy, for example, partners with 22 community colleges that encourage students to seek apprentices at Nissan dealerships.

But there’s a need to go younger, Johnson admits. And perhaps a bigger need to target beyond the students themselves. Parents and school counselors also must be convinced that being an auto technician “is a viable, rewarding career,” she said.

In line with that thinking, the initial videos will be aimed at adults who are typing things such as “best job without a college degree” into their search engines, said Carlisle’s Hollenberg.

Subsequent videos, mainly 30-second spots, likely will target students.

The project also will address retention. That effort will zero in on that critical second year of the job.

“That’s where all the falloff is,” Hollenberg said.

Carlisle worked with some big dealership groups — Hendrick Automotive, Sonic Automotive and Sewell Automotive — to interview technicians and come up with some best practices for retention. The findings are packaged into a 72-page playbook.

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