By David Pendered
Mercedes-Benz USA has received approval from the U.S. departments of labor and veterans affairs to offer a registered apprenticeship program. Graduates are all but guaranteed a job at virtually any Mercedes Benz dealership in the country.
The program runs 40 hours a week for 16 weeks and involves 10 percent classroom and 90 percent workshop instruction. Graduates will receive a completion certificate from the MBUSA and the Department of Labor. The certificate can take years to learn outside the training program, according to MBUSA.
Veterans are being targeted for the program because their military experience is presumed to have equipped them with technical experience and the ability to complete tasks.
Similar programs have existed for years. Honda, for example, worked with the leaders of what was Gwinnett Technical Institute in the late 1980s to develop a training program specifically tailored for Honda vehicles. Since then, Mercedes Benz has partnered with Gwinnett Technical College to offer a two-year program.
The twist here is that MBUSA has won federal approval for a program that’s to be administered by Universal Technical Institute, a for-profit technical school established in 1965. The DRIVE apprenticeship program is part of the company’s efforts to ensure customers have access to an adequate supply of technicians trained to service Mercedes Benz vehicles.
“The complexity of our current and future luxury vehicles, along with significant sales growth, has created a strong and growing need for skilled, professional technicians,” Christian Treiber, MBUSA’s vice president of customer service, said in a statement. “Mechanics are now technologists with a high level of sophistication. With an eye towards the future, Mercedes-Benz has mapped out a new path that makes technician jobs attractive to veterans as well as providing much-needed assets for dealerships.”
Given MBUSA’s company’s high profile in metro Atlanta – naming rights for the new Downtown stadium and a new USA headquarters being built in Sandy Springs – it might be supposed that one of the training sites would be in metro Atlanta. That’s not the case.
The program is offered at sites in Long Beach, Ca; Dallas; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Norwood, Mass. Universal Technical Institute already has a relationship with MBUSA. Here’s how one student described the experience in a 2015 post on yelp.com:
- “This is a good school. Honestly it reminds me of high school. I was picked up by the manufacture paid [sic] Mercedes Benz program and I couldn’t ask for anything else. Going through this school was a breeze for me since I already had a background on cars. But the biggest thing here if you wanna go anywhere is your attendance. If you can’t be there on time then this school might not be the greatest idea.” – Cody B., Laguna Niguel, Ca.
Apprentices are to receive training in core competencies such as brakes and traction, service and maintenance, and telematics – the multi-function black box best known as the one used by General Motors, OnStar, which does everything from crash notification to navigation and vehicle health reports.
Other areas of study include electric power systems, diagnostic strategy and electrical fundamentals. Students will also take a course in career development, helping them prepare for a successful transition into the automotive industry.
More information is available at an MBUSA website.