May 03–STOCKTON — A new program available to auto students at Weber Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, while barely a month old, will be able to not only to help them grow as local technicians, but work to secure well-paying careers in diesel.
“I think it’s going to be a great fit,” Weber Institute instructor Mike Yonan said, “because we have kids interested in diesel, but we never knew we had this program.”
Called Get Ahead, the program is offered through Daimler Trucks North America to hundreds of auto technical schools and junior colleges across the country.
Weber Institute, overseen by the Stockton Unified School District and located in downtown Stockton, is the only high school in California to offer Get Ahead to upperclassmen.
Ian Dempsey, corporate trainer at California Truck Centers, said the program offers free web-based course training developed for aspiring industry dealer and distributor technicians.
Students who complete it will obtain system certifications on a large variety of diesel trucks like Western, Freightliner, and Detroit Diesel.
“It allows these schools to offer our comprehensive dealership training to present students the chance to get ahead so they can obtain the first stage of certification to work at a dealer,” Dempsey said.
“After graduation, they can have system certification already in hand … a dealer would snatch them up in a heartbeat.”
Supplemental lessons of the Get Ahead program consist mostly of reading, visual presentations and audio that is interactive. Students will take quizzes, achieve a passing rate on dozens of lessons and when they enroll in an automotive workshop — either a San Joaquin Delta College or Universal Technical Institute, for example — they have the upper hand and prior experience.
“I think it’s spot on, it makes sense,” said Yonan.
While Weber Institute students in Yonan’s class won’t exactly work on actual diesel trucks, they will have the understanding of what it takes to keep a truck’s engines roaring. And the pay isn’t that bad, either.
“If you want to go into this field, as a mechanic, you’re going to make more money starting off as a diesel mechanic than an automotive mechanic,” Yonan said.
The starting pay for general mechanic positions in California begins at $25.81 hourly or more, said Dempsey. It’s also an industry that is in serious needs of technicians, especially in San Joaquin County.
Said Dempsey: “The more truck and transportation industry (in the Central Valley) is off the hook — there are so many fleets and all the major carrier manufacturers are here: Freightliner, Kenworth, Caterpillar, John Deere; all these places need diesel technicians.”
Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.
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