Ford partners with dealers in launching 'SOS' program for youth

Ford Sponsor Our Students Program

Ford has teamed up with dealers with the launching of the “Sponsor Our Students” (SOS) program to give opportunities to youngsters who are interested in getting meaningful careers as automotive technicians.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • How many students are expected to join the Sponsor Our Students program?

    Ford is targeting 5,000 students to participate in the SOS program.
  • How many dealers have joined so far?

    Currently, more than 1,000 Ford and Lincoln dealers have enrolled in the program.
  • In a statement, the Dearborn-headquartered automotive marque said that the aforementioned program — which can start in high school — is about building skills and developing connections.

    “Ford and Lincoln dealers committed to sponsoring students will offer them a unique opportunity for work-based learning within their service department, including the support of a mentor,” the company said.

    Ford said that the dealers are encouraged to sponsor automotive students of all ages for them to see their academic lessons put into practice, and to experience early what it is like to be in their chosen field. 

    Ford logo

    Since April, more than 1,000 Ford and Lincoln dealers have enrolled in the program and are committed to sponsor over 3,600 students. The automaker is targeting to have at least 5,000 students to undergo the work-based experience before the end of 2022.

    “Recruiting and retaining quality auto technicians is increasingly becoming one of the biggest challenges facing the retail automotive industry today and why building the dealer technician pipeline is so important, Ford Customer Service Division Vice President Frederiek Toney was quoted as saying.

    “The average dealer will spend tens of thousands on a technician to be trained in a dealership over the course of five to eight years. This program and other Ford technician training programs help to reduce the time and cost associated with recruiting and training new hires,” he added.

    Further, Ford said that it is expecting that many students who have joined the SOS program will be part of the Ford’s Automotive Career Exploration (ACE) program, which is currently available at more than 1,100 high schools and post-secondary schools in the United States.

    The Blue Oval brand noted that students from the participating schools have access to the same advanced courses that are used to train Ford dealership technicians.

    Students hired by their sponsoring Ford or Lincoln dealer will have the opportunity to receive accelerated training within Ford’s training network, which can “streamline the path to becoming a highly trained automotive technician.”

    Further, sponsored students that are hired will receive a 20-percent discount in the Rotunda Technician Tool Program.

    “Our goal is to build senior master technicians from the ground up and we are doing this for the customer. In the past, we had specialized technicians who waited till another tech finished their work before they could run diagnostics on another issue. Here, master technicians can cover bumper to bumper and clear a ticket to get the customer out the door quicker. This increases our efficiency as a shop,” Capital Ford in Sante Fe, New Mexico General Manager Zach Brandt said.

    “These (sponsored) technicians are also more loyal to you and are better techs for it. Their pay level is based on training requirements so technicians are motivated to learn more knowing they can make a good living in this line of work.”

    Ford cited that the dealer enrollment package includes a playbook for the retailers that will reflect the best ways to attract, train, and retain students as technicians. Dealers will also have the support of their OEM field teams throughout their enrollment. 

    The SOS program is currently offered in the United States but Ford is eyeing a rapid expansion soon.

    Photos from Ford

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