Building an Apprenticeship Program with George Arrants

Thursday, September 8, 2022 | September 2022

MWACA caught up with George to learn about ASE’s apprenticeship program and how it can benefit your shop.


What motivated ASE to start developing this apprenticeship pilot program?

Arrants: The program is driven by two facts: we have a severe technician shortage and the best way to ensure that a new technician will stay in the industry is to put them to work while they are still in school. As a US Department of Labor registered apprenticeship, there are financial opportunities for many students, especially those who are economically-disadvantaged, and tax incentives for employers to build these relationships. COVID accelerated the retirement of lots of senior technicians and many employers now see that the best way to get
the workforce they want is to grow it themselves and not steal it from somebody else.

What would you say makes ASE's apprenticeship program unique from other apprenticeship programs?

Arrants: Most apprenticeships you hear about are to journeyman-level. That term journeyman means it's a three-, four-year, or five-year (program). It's time-based. Ours is competency-based. That means we measure the student's progress in the workplace, and their advancement or increase in pay is based on their increased ability. It's entry-level, so it's short-term. Our apprenticeship is only tied to our accredited schools so that we can be assured of the quality of the training, and that the program has all the resources it needs. So it's a short-term program designed to put students in the workforce while they're still in school.

Why does partnering with an apprenticeship program like this benefit local businesses?

Arrants: Local businesses spend a tremendous amount of money in recruitment, but if the pool of entry-level qualified people already exists within your community, within the schools that you are both a personal- and professional-taxpayer for, why would you not draw from that pool instead of trying to go out and recruit and try to bring people in or try to find somebody who may not be a good fit for your company. We're designed to be a ‘Grow Your Own' and keep the local talent local. 

How does a local business go about working with and building an apprenticeship program?

Arrants: So our (program) is an apprenticeship in a box. And what I mean by that is, the employers don't have to do any of the paperwork, we do it all. Traditionally, they're involved in their local schools. We do webinars and sessions to bring people up to speed on what is expected, how we can help them recruit, how we can help them get involved in their local school, and how they can grow their own workforce, even to the point of how to select a trainer and mentor in the place of business. We're able to manage and measure expectations almost on a daily basis of the progress or struggles of that apprentice, and potentially getting resources in place to assist where needed.

What does it take for a business to get set up with ASE to start having apprentices?

Arrants: We find some students that meet a basic criteria for employment for that company, and we do what we call shadowing activities. That's where the student would go out to multiple businesses and kind of do a go-and-see or spend a little time with a technician or a service advisor to learn more about the company. If the student and the employer agree that this is the pathway that they want to go [down], then we start to work with the employer on the selection of that mentor and provide information of what skill sets you should have to be a mentor. Once we make that determination, we provide face-to-face training to train the mentor and the apprentice on how to work together. When we match the correct mentor with the right student the program is very successful.

How can widespread apprenticeship programs address current recruitment and retention issues within the industry and help prepare shops for the future?

Arrants: So shops and businesses are busy doing what they're doing, and let's be honest right now: with COVID and the lack of new vehicles or new trucks, service departments and fleets are strained to the maximum. I think the biggest thing that we can help those folks do is help them do the basic legwork to find that local pool of entry-level people that already exist in their community or nearby community to grow their workforce instead of trying to seek out nationally to bring somebody in from far away, to use the resources that already exist within their community and county to fill their workforce needs.


Image of George Arrants on a podium speaking to an audienceGEORGE ARRANTS

Arrants works with the ASE Education Foundation to develop and implement an initiative for the automotive, medium/heavy truck, and collision industry to partner industry and education and open opportunities for student work-based learning and apprenticeships across the country.

Previously an Automotive Education Consultant specializing in ASE Accreditation, he worked with instructors and administrators to develop partnerships with local business and industry through the programs advisory committees and guides them through the ASE program accreditation.

He and his wife Mary live in Lake Jackson, Texas. They have 5 children, 1 girl & 4 boys (2 are twins) and have been for 34 years. Of the 5, the only children in the auto industry are their daughter and young son.