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News Brief

Feb. 28, 2024 |  By: Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

NE college graduates fully certified Ford auto technicians

car inspection

By Deborah Van Fleet - Public News Service

A unique collaboration between Ford Motor Co. and 41 community and technical colleges across the country is helping students and the automotive industry.

Ford's Automotive Student Service Education Training or "ASSET" program enables students to complete a two-year associate degree program as certified Ford automotive technicians. In Nebraska, the program is at Southeast Community College's Milford Campus.

ASSET instructor Mark Berggren, who chairs the program, said dealerships require their technicians be certified, and the program can save them considerable time and money.

"On average, an automotive technician that starts with the service department at a dealership, they have none of these certifications and have to go and get them," he said. "It takes roughly five to eight years, Ford has told us, to get those same certifications we're delivering in two years."

Ford and Lincoln dealerships also play a role, as all ASSET students must be sponsored by a dealership. Berggren explained that the program includes periods when students get paid, hands-on experience at their dealerships. He said the best aspect of the program for many students is knowing they have a job on "day one" after they graduate.

Beggren said about half the students who enroll already have a sponsorship commitment from a dealership.

"So they're picking out a potential candidate that they can grow, and then they send us that student," he said. "Now, when we have some students that don't have dealers, and we can help them out with that process, because we know, of course, all the dealerships and the service management and can point in that direction."

Adamaris Peraza, a second-year student in Southeast's ASSET program, took automotive courses in high school, which led to an apprenticeship at a local dealership. Peraza said she was later moved to another dealership within the company, and they asked her to go to school for them.

"They were talking to me about Southeast Community College, and it just sounded like a pretty good deal," she said. "It's like having all my certifications in just two years, and we also have a chance to already have a job through the dealership."

The country is expected to need an average of 68,000 additional automotive technicians and mechanics yearly between now and 2032.