Concord, N.H. (February 2, 2023) – As the need for skilled and trained automotive technicians grows, ApprenticeshipNH, a workforce program of the Community College System of New Hampshire, and Merchants Automotive are celebrating the first graduates of the NH Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) Automotive Technician Generalist Registered Apprenticeship program. On December 22, 2022, Ashley Wendt, of Hillsboro, and Jacob Gilmartin, of Hooksett, were recognized for completing the apprenticeship program, providing them with a practical pathway to an in-demand career. As incumbent employees and using ApprenticeshipNH’s ‘earn while you learn’ model, Wendt and Gilmartin continued working full-time at New Hampshire’s largest pre-owned dealership while advancing through related education and training.
With over five combined years of services at Merchants, Wendt and Gilmartin were both first hired as Lube Technicians and had no prior automotive experience. They had a desire to learn and were interested in growth and upskill opportunities when the apprenticeship program became available. As the company’s first two apprentices, they balanced their time to complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job-training in safety, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical systems and engine performance with 144 hours of classroom instruction at Manchester Community College, all while earning pay and being mentored by key personnel at Merchants.
“The program helped me greatly advance my career in the automotive field,” said Wendt who is now a Basic Maintenance Technician.
The one-year Automotive Technician Generalist Registered Apprenticeship program combines practical on-the-job training and classroom learning at one of the five New Hampshire community colleges. Both adults and high school students participate to launch a career in the automotive industry while Merchants develops a talent pool of qualified automotive professionals.
Now a Technician Class C, Gilmartin said, “I found the program to be very worthwhile and helpful overall.”
There are 10 apprentices currently enrolled in the Automotive Technician Registered Apprenticeship program, eight of which are at Merchants. Through this partnership, more opportunities will be created for adults and high school students interested in becoming an auto technician through a hands-on apprenticeship program.
According to the state’s Economic Labor Market Information Bureau (ELMI), New Hampshire automotive dealers will be looking to fill more than 700 automotive technicians over the next eight years signaling opportunity for job seekers. Automotive technician duties include performing express maintenance services such as oil changes, tire rotations, fluid changes, assisting mechanics and maintaining shop appearance.
As a Registered Apprenticeship program, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeship and ApprenticeshipNH collaborate with community partners to create industry-driven, high-quality career pathways where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential. The program is supported by WorkNowNH and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).
ApprenticeshipNH was established in 2017 and is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Labor to assist employers building registered apprenticeships, pre-apprentice and high school programs in high-demand sectors including healthcare, technology, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, transportation/logistics, and education/ childcare. ApprenticeshipNH has a history of assisting New Hampshire employers with Registered Apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and programs with high school students as proven recruitment strategies. Participating employers have experienced increased productivity, boosted employee retention, improved company culture and an ensured knowledge transfer when filling retiring positions with qualified, skilled workers. To date, 1,167 individuals and 63 companies have benefitted from the program. Visit ApprenticeshipNH.com for more information.
About Merchants Automotive Group:
Merchants Auto is the largest pre-owned dealership in New Hampshire. Being part of Merchants Fleet, one of the largest fleet leasing companies in the US, we have access to nearly 150,000 vehicles previously owned by Merchants Fleet. We know the full maintenance history from day one, many of the vehicles are less than 3 years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles. Low prices, an in-house finance company, a full lot of inventory, paired with our 7-day moneyback guarantee allows us to provide you with a full spectrum, hassle-free shopping experience.
About New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association:
The New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) is a statewide trade association, representing the interests of the motor vehicle industry. Membership consists of new car and truck, motorcycle, snowmobile, and on-road and off-road recreational vehicle dealers, as well as, independent and equipment dealers, motor vehicle service, auto body repair, recyclers, and motor vehicle parts sales facilities.
Photo caption: CCSNH, ApprenticeshipNH, Merchants Auto Group and NHADA celebrate apprentices for completing the Automotive Technician Generalist Registered Apprenticeship Program. (left-to-right) Drew Young, Merchants Service Director; Joe Wentworth, Merchants Automotive Group Senior Learning & Development Specialist; Adam Memmolo, NHADA Workforce Development Coordinator; Mary Ann Gaschnig, ApprenticeshipNH High School Youth Apprentice and Business Outreach Specialist; Ashley Wendt, Merchants Apprentice; Jake Gilmartin, Merchants Apprentice; Scott Kuhn, Senior Technician Team Leader; Jordan Marshall, NHADA Administrative Specialist; Anne Banks, CCSNH Apprenticeship Programs Manager. (Photo courtesy of Merchants)