A new state-of-the-art automotive training program is set to put some Tarrant County College students on the fast track to academic and professional success. Earlier this year, representatives from TCC, Toyota Motors North America and Gulf States Toyota announced a partnership that will bring the Toyota Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) program to TCC South. This is the 38th T-TEN program in the nation and the fourth in Texas.
Due to a nationwide automotive technician shortage, Toyota decided to go this route rather than have its dealers seek employees who weren’t necessarily trained to work on the brand's vehicles, according to Toyota officials. Cars and trucks have become much more complex, increasingly relying on complicated computer systems and electronics to operate. At TCC, students can get the right training needed to excel in the evolving world of automotive technology, and that has generated excitement with many of the College’s supporters.
“Preparing the workforce of tomorrow means providing ample opportunities for today’s students to gain the hands-on technical training they need to take advantage of the high-paying jobs available in the Metroplex,” said Congressman Marc Veasey (D-TX 33rd District). “TCC’s partnership with Toyota’s T-TEN program is a prime example of how private and public entities can team up to benefit the job-readiness of our local students.”
Scheduled to launch in fall 2018 with a cohort of 22 students, this two-year program is expected to turn out highly skilled technicians for lucrative jobs with Toyota and Lexus dealers throughout the region. Graduates can expect to earn a starting salary of $32,000-$42,000, with salaries climbing to $85,000 or more for senior technicians with years of experience. Typically, nine of every 10 graduates receive placement from programs into dealerships, according to Toyota officials.
“Students now have an opportunity to acquire additional skills and national certification in a burgeoning industry, increasing their employability and earning potential,” said TCC South President Peter Jordan.
For Toyota and Lexus, this partnership creates a ready pool of highly skilled potential employees to meet growing workforce demands.
“Furthermore, TCC faculty are in a position to offer another dimension to the automotive technology curriculum we deliver,” Jordan said.
Courses will be taught by Toyota-certified professionals using the latest Toyota and Lexus vehicles to teach about transmissions and transaxles; suspension, noise vibration and harshness; brakes; electrical and electronic systems; automatic climate control; electronic fuel injection; engines and computer control systems.
Toyota already has provided 12 training vehicles and plans to provide an additional 12 vehicles over the next 18 months for the program, allowing students access to modern vehicle technology. Program graduates are destined to be placed where Gulf States Toyota and Lexus Southern dealers are located in a five-state region: Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
“The magic of this training program is that individuals who apply for and enter this T-TEN program, a prescribed educational program of training, can be comfortably assured that with their successful completion of this program, they will be prepared for a specific job, with a reputable company and a variety of potential locations,” said TCC Board Member Gwendolyn Morrison. “Such training partnerships take the happenstance out of the education/skills development/job training/job search timeline. I think it is magical!”
Before TCC South received Toyota’s “seal of approval,” the campus had to undergo a comprehensive review and grants certification process to confirm all program standards were met. Each individual training partner funds its program needs, with Toyota Master Sales and Toyota Motor Corporation being the primary corporate funding sources. TCC plans to invest $304,000 in personnel and equipment for the program, not including the renovations made to the automotive bays, storage facilities and classrooms in the Automotive Building.
T-TEN graduates will earn an Associate in Applied Science degree, as well as Toyota and industry certifications that separate them from the crowd. Certifications are earned by T-TEN graduates for completing Toyota-designed courses and for passing National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification tests. These certificates are widely recognized within the industry and allow technicians to earn more money and gain increased responsibilities.
“T-TEN was conceived more than 30 years ago to ensure our dealers have a source of highly-trained, entry-level technicians and to support the America’s Career and Technical Education system,” said Chris Nielsen, executive vice president of product support and chief quality officer of Toyota Motor North America.
Since T-TEN’s inception, more than 11,000 graduates have started their career through T-TEN and, now, TCC has joined a community of 37 schools providing industry-leading and occupationally aligned automotive training.
To enter the program, students must demonstrate a passion for the career and an aptitude to learn the skills necessary to perform as a service bay technician. The training also includes a paid internship experience for students at a local dealership as they pursue certifications for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. T-TEN has placed thousands of certified technicians in the service departments of nearly 1,500 dealerships around the country.
The more than 100 students currently enrolled in the automotive repair programs at TCC South can apply for T-Ten; however, they must start over because credits will not transfer to the highly specialized program. Applicants are expected to pass a driving record check, background check and aptitude test.
“Our mission, in partnership with Toyota dealers, is to support programs that create tomorrow’s Toyota technician, acknowledging that a skills gap truly exists and it’s a challenge we have to overcome,” said Jeff Parent, president of Gulf States Toyota. “Partnering with TCC to bring this curriculum to Fort Worth is one way to overcome that challenge, and we want to help interested, qualified students pursue a career in the technical field by providing them with the resources and skillset that Toyota believes are essential for success.”
TCC and Toyota are working together to develop curriculum and operational processes needed to successfully execute the program at the level needed by Toyota and its dealers. Students are required to participate in an internship before graduation, alternating between the classroom/lab and the dealership. A search is currently underway to hire qualified instructors for the program.