UTI Combines Skills Education with On-the-Job Training

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Aug. 29, 2019—Recently, the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) launched an initiative to help with the skills gap in the collision repair industry. UTI launched an Early Employment initiative that combines post-secondary skills education with on-the-job apprenticeship-type training.

Under the program, students learn about and can apply for local jobs with participating employers as soon as they enroll at UTI's Avondale campus. UTI's core automotive program is 51 weeks and the core diesel program is 46 weeks. 

Participating students will receive a minimum of 20 to 30 hours per week of paid work experience while they’re in school. Employers will work with students’ schedules and the campus to ensure students can work and successfully attend their classes at UTI. Employers will have sole discretion over setting their internal criteria and determining whether students are meeting expectations.

FenderBender reached out to see what drove the program and what the industry can expect going forward. Jerome Grant, chief operating officer at Universal Technical Institute shares his thoughts.

What motivated this new program?

Demand for well-trained transportation technicians has never been greater. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that there will be more than 1.2 million job openings nationwide in the sector by 2026. That means the economy requires an additional 100,000 technicians each year. It's critical that Arizona students and families understand the outstanding career opportunities that await in the transportation field. 

This program demonstrates that employers want these students and want to help make their UTI education more attainable and help them get the skills they will need to succeed in a transportation career.

How does the program work exactly? How often do students have to be in a shop or on campus?

The Early Employment Program is an initiative that merges post-secondary technical education with on-the-job skills training. Upon enrolling with UTI, students may apply for a local job with a participating transportation employer. Students who advance through the hiring process work directly with the employer – earning real-world job training, learning the culture of their prospective company and positioning themselves for rewarding, in-demand careers – while receiving their UTI training. Graduates who complete their UTI education and meet their employers’ criteria have the opportunity to get all, or a portion, of their educational expenses reimbursed, as well as an offer for full-time employment.

Students get work experience and a quality technical education at the same time. It's a combination that allows students to earn the skills and credentials they need to hit the ground running and quickly advance in their careers.

Have any of the other 12 campuses been confirmed yet?

The Early Employment initiative’s first launch is here in Arizona at our Avondale campus. Response from Arizona students and employers has been enthusiastic, and we’re already receiving requests from employers in other areas of the country, including California and Texas. We plan to expand the initiative to each of our 12 campuses across the country once we build a successful foundation here in Arizona. 

How does the employer check in to make sure the student is meeting criteria?

The employer will have their own process and criteria in place, and it will be up to their organization to decide whether or not the UTI candidate meets their standards. UTI will touch base with students and employers throughout the program to gather feedback and help support both.



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