Technicians have been a rare commodity for years, spurring companies like Manheim to begin developing apprentice technicians in new and creative ways. However, entrants into the industry can soon discover that tool startup costs are prohibitive compared to starting wages. Volvo Car USA has developed a program that can alleviate financial stress for new techs.
The Volvo Technician Tool Program makes it feasible for future technicians to start in a career without going deep into debt initially.
Challenging Entry Point for Technicians
In the automotive industry, new technicians are bound to experience a financial pinch. Two avenues can get you into the profession: either a four-year apprenticeship or a two-year trade school program. The abbreviated route often finds graduates shouldering an average program cost of $32,832, according to Trade School Future.
Compounding the problem is a modest starting rate for new techs. Salary.com shows that entry-level wages for auto techs begin around $16 per hour. While more than double the average minimum wage in the US, it’s hardly a living wage in most of the country.
Since most employers require techs bring their own tools, the financial burden gets even deeper before earning begins. Technicians can expect to pay $15,000 or more for tools like this general purpose set from Grainger Industrial Supply.
Before earning a dollar, techs could be more than $45,000 in debt between schooling and tools alone.
Free Tools from Volvo for New Techs
Volvo Car USA has set new technicians up for success by providing ‘free and permanent access’ to a comprehensive tool set in Volvo Car Service Centers in the United States. In collaboration with Wurth Tools, a 72-piece set of hand tools and power tools are installed in service centers where unfettered access is granted to all technicians.
Scott Doering, Vice President of Customer Service at Volvo Car USA, said, “The Volvo Technician Tool Program (VTTP) addresses one of the biggest challenges facing the automotive industry: the need for more technicians. With this initiative, we see substantial value delivered to our retailer partners, especially given the nominal VTTP investment relative to the cost of recruiting or replacing a technician.”
Missing and broken pieces are replaced at the dealer’s expense, along with any maintenance costs. However, the initial tools are provided at no charge. While not an exhaustive tool supply, the set gives technicians access to tools that can perform more than 80 percent of the services and repairs they might encounter for Volvo vehicles specifically.
Doering said, “We have spent the last six months validating these toolsets in our in-house workshop and our technicians’ feedback has been resoundingly positive. We expect retailers will feel the same.”
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