Austin Albrecht, an automotive student at Western Technical College, is well prepared for a career outside of college. Heading into his second year at Western, he’s already planning his next steps.
“I keep track of everything I have done in class to make sure I am ready for any role in the field,” he said.
Albrecht and his classmates are taking advantage of a new training partnership between Western’s Automotive Technician program and Subaru University.
Students have access to more than 30 online training modules. Each module takes about an hour to complete and covers a variety of topics, including brakes, engines and general maintenance. The training modules are free to all students. Although specific modules are used in program instruction, a student has unlimited access to all of them at Western.
“The web-based training is essentially the same training that Subaru dealership technicians are required to complete,” said Andy Olson, an Automotive Technician instructor at Western.
Automotive technicians are in high demand in the area, similar to many other industries in Western’s Integrated Technology division. According to Subaru University’s website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of certified technicians needed will rise 5% each year through 2024.
“There are great job prospects in this industry,” Olson said. “Several of our students already work in shops while attending classes here at Western. Overall, students have excellent job opportunities before and after they graduate.”
Part of those opportunities include Subaru University’s training modules, which can provide additional certification, improving skills and employability.
“It goes over a lot of stuff we simply aren’t able to get through in class,” Western student Taylor Card said.
“It reinforces another way of learning,” Albrecht said. “Rather than sitting in a classroom and listening to the instructor talk or working out in the shop, it’s just another way of verifying the information and retaining it. It’s a very handy tool.”
Albrecht added that not everyone entering Western’s Automotive Technician program has the same amount of experience, so the training modules help level the playing field.
“It’s a good opportunity, especially for students who do not have a lot of automotive experience coming in,” he said. “It helps to get more information, especially outside of class when they have additional time.”
Olson says in just one year, the modules have helped train many students and show no signs of slowing down.
“The program has been a great success so far,” he said.
The Automotive Technician program also offers opportunities for the public. Members of the public may submit their vehicle for repairs at Western’s Automotive Facility. Western covers the cost for labor, but the individual is still responsible for the cost of replacement parts. There are restrictions and limitations. More information about the repair program can be found at Western’s website.