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Training in the Auto Industry

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    The purpose of this research is to delve into the human resource management implications that must be considered in regards to the automotive industry, especially the training methods used by automotive employers. Continuous training development is a chief component of the job of an HR representative at an automotive service facility, as the success of the business depends entirely on whether or not its technicians are kept well-versed in industry advancements. These updates to industry practice and technology, in turn, tend to cause skills in certain areas to be temporarily relevant. As Weber (2016) states, “The growing skills gap evident in the automotive industry is made worse by quickly perishable skills” (p. 1). Areas such as diagnostic software and equipment receive updates on nearly a daily basis; therefore, human resource departments in the automotive field consistently play a game of catch-up if they are ill-prepared. The research findings regarding automotive training methods contained herein will be useful to a human resources representative at an automotive service facility, as they will be better equipped to develop continuous training programs that will drive employee success.

    Topic Overview

    All career fields require some form of training for employees in efforts to help them become acclimated to and stay up-to-date on both their organization’s practices and those of their industry. With technological advancements that are constantly updated, the automotive industry is a perfect testament to this concept. In order to ensure that all employees are sufficiently familiar with the varying requirements of their job, automotive dealerships and other repair facilities must continuously expose technicians and other employees to various forms of training. A variety of different training methods are frequently utilized in the automotive field, including apprenticeship and vestibule training, which serve to teach diverse topics to technicians.

    Designing and implementing the training programs necessary to produce excellent automotive employees have become a daunting task for human resources representatives. According to Robinson (2015), “While companies in the automotive industry are doing their best to develop new talent, there is a prominent skills gap due to the fact that specialties needed today are ever-evolving” (p. 1). With the combined hindrances of older automotive workers retiring in increasing numbers and shortages of young entry-level technicians, hiring and training automotive employees is of great concern to HR representatives in this field.

    Research Findings

    Apprenticeship Training

    A primary training method implemented by automotive dealerships is the use of apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs are defined as training practices through which an entry-level employee is able to learn their trade under the supervision of an established professional. Automotive apprenticeships are typically conducted over the course of approximately two years, during which time the impressionable apprentice frequently works with a field expert, such as an experienced A-level technician. According to 4 Tips for Success during Your Auto Mechanic Apprenticeship (2016), the job of the apprentice is to “pay attention to what experienced mechanics are doing around you. Emulate their good habits, but also take note of their mistakes so you know not to make the same ones in the future” (p. 1). The main practice of apprenticeship programs is to create the opportunity for the master to observe the apprentice, and vice-versa. This provides the apprentice with firsthand experience on various vehicle systems to lay the foundation for his or her learning.

    Due to the turnover rate in the automotive field, new employees must undergo a trial period to make sure they are capable of completing their required tasks. Apprentices must be tested on what tasks they learned through the program and then assessed using a checklist. This acts as a trial run for the apprentice to test their skills prior to a final evaluation by his or her supervisor to determine effectiveness.

    Vestibule Training

    Vestibule training is a form of off-the-job training that takes place in separate areas or rooms, otherwise known as vestibules. Trainees in a vestibule program will be taught through the use of actual or simulated equipment and scenarios. Transfer of skills and knowledge to the workplace is not often required due to the vestibule classroom being an exact working model of the job environment. This type of training is most commonly used in career fields that are especially dangerous or where mistakes are too costly. According to Dessler (2017), “Putting new assembly line workers right to work could slow production, for instance, and when safety is a concern-as with pilots-simulated training may be the only practical alternative” (p.247). It also relieves the employee of the pressure of the actual work environment. Vestibule training has become increasingly common in the automotive field due to the advancements in electrical systems in hybrid-electric and fully-electric vehicles. This stems from the potentially dangerous situations created by high voltage DC circuitry.

    In many automotive training facilities, you will find that there are automobiles and automotive systems such as transmissions, engines, and hybrid electrical systems affixed to stands and are used for disassembly and reassembly purposes only. This provides a safe environment for technicians to gain knowledge and experience prior to exposure to the fast paced, dangerous environment of a live and working repair shop. Losses due to mistakes caused by the lack of knowledge of automotive systems have proven to be not only time consuming and costly, but also dangerous and even deadly. The adoption of a vestibule training program as part of the learning process for employees of a dangerous or high production facility could serve to maintain such desired high levels of productivity and safety.

    Group Interest

    The automotive industry is a large and diverse community comprised of many different areas of work and study. This industry is of special interest to our group for many different reasons. All members of our group have chosen some discipline of automotive technology as our field of study; many of us have had jobs in the automotive industry and have found that it is one where a prosperous career can be made if the necessary tools are readily available.

    Technical training is a huge part of the automotive industry due to constant technological advancements. According to Eve (2017), “Rapid change provides immense growth opportunities for companies that embrace new ways of working and learning. The time to plan the future of automotive learning programmes is now.” (p. 1). With technology existing in a constantly dynamic state, there is always the need for training on how the new technology works and how technicians can repair and maintain these advances in the automotive industry. These constant innovations can be a very attractive feature for the automotive industry, since the newest and greatest technology is being produced roughly every two years.

    In the automotive industry, there are different career paths as well as methods through which to achieve career goals, one of which is schooling. Of course, the post-secondary education path that has interested our group is studying automotive business management at Penn College. With this specific program, students receive proven, up-to-date training and learn not only technical and hands on information, but also business and financial information. Since the program encompasses these two spectrums, the students exit with a much greater understanding of the automotive industry. Therefore, it may behoove an automotive employer to encourage its potential hires and trainees to study here.

    The automotive industry has a number of aspects that are interesting to not only existing employees, but also those who plan to begin their career in automotive. Keeping up with the newest and greatest technology, continuous learning, and the ability to smoothly climb the ladder to higher industry positions are just some of the aspects that garner the attention of anyone looking to pursue a career in the automotive field.

    Relation to Human Resource Management

    Although the text presents the different types of training as separate methods, it is common practice in the automotive industry to utilize different means of training to ensure that the student is able to perform in all aspects of the field. The completion of this process, of course, is the job of the human resource management team. A major function of the human resource department of any business is the training and development of its employees. It is their goal to produce a safe and positive work environment to lead the business to productivity. Accidents which are a result of the lack of training are the fault of the HR department and often carry legal consequences. HR-backed training is significant due to the fact that the technician must have not only the sufficient knowledge in how to diagnose accurately and efficiently, but must also be talented enough with their hands in order to complete their work in a timely manner. For instance, job instruction training is used in our industry that would help a technician become more efficient by giving them the experience it takes become fast. However, it does not help a technician understand or diagnose the system better. If a technician is unable to diagnose accurately and work efficiently enough, they will not last long in that particular position.

    In order for a technician to “fit in” both socially and professionally, he or she must be properly trained and willing to learn how tasks are accomplished at that particular shop. If a new employee refuses to do things the proper way and their coworkers must fix their mistakes, it may result in the technicians questioning management leadership. This is a hindrance to employee engagement which, in turn, translates to a loss of time and resources. The conclusion can therefore be made that training must be provided to ensure that the employees can function properly on the job. Proven methods to help technicians adapt, especially if they are younger or new to the industry, is to use the aforementioned training methods.


    Industries centered on technology exist in ever-changing states, and the automotive industry is no different. Software programs, repair procedures, theoretical concepts, and other aspects of the field are tweaked on a constant basis, creating learning gaps between known and new information. To adapt to this environment, HR teams at automotive repair facilities should ensure that they appropriately prepare and implement continuous training programs to keep employees fresh and current. As stated by Morley (2017), “An automotive business is only as strong as its employees” (p. 1). This statement certainly rings true in modern automotive business, as those with the best-trained technicians have the highest propensity to experience success. Improperly-equipped human resources representatives may inadvertently hurt technician performance if they fail to study the needs of the automotive industry. To combat this, the training practices contained herein should be adhered to so that all employees are able to complete their tasks at the prestigious level of quality and timeliness required in the automotive industry today.

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