Combines education courses and work-based learning to complete Journey Worker Certification in 5-year program.
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), the U.S. subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., (“NFI”), the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer and parts distributor in North America, has announced the MCI Academy – the first motor coach training program to earn Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) accreditation in 2017– is breaking more new ground as the exclusive training provider for the Motorcoach Technician Apprenticeship Program with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), creating the first-ever technician apprenticeship program for the industry.
Intended to promote top maintenance of motorcoaches, the program allows operators to offer apprenticeships to recruit new entrants into the industry and establish a career-path for technicians already on staff that hasn’t existed before.
“Apprenticeships are available for hundreds of occupations from electricians to precision machinists that demand high skills but not always a four-year degree,” said Scott Crawford, MCI Manager of Technical Training, who worked with the DOL on the program’s registration. “Apprenticeships appeal to high-school graduates, veterans and others who prefer to earn while they learn without running up student debt. We’re excited to offer the program to industry operators as well as technicians employed by MCI.”
The one through five-year program builds on curriculums already available through MCI Academy offering a tiered structured learning path with 800 hours of online Learning Management System (LMS) courses (including 200 hours in safety courses) and weeklong training events at MCI’s Louisville, KY-based National Training Center to earn Tech 3, 2 and 1 with 16 system qualification certificates including HVAC and electrical systems, coupled with on-the-job training hours.
Crawford explains that apprenticeship candidates must be employed in the motor coach industry and be assigned to a mentor by the employer. The mentor, who receives an instructional orientation session, will be responsible for verifying that the apprentice has mastered the required level of expertise within the five-years to earn Journey Worker certification. He added, “The employer must also establish the apprentice’s ending wage and is required to start the candidate at no less than 50 percent of the ending wage.”
Apprenticeships benefit the employer by creating a skilled worker trained to industry standards to produce quality results, compliance with equal opportunity requirements and reduces turnover. According to the DOL, 91 percent of apprentices remain on the job long after completing the program.
There is no charge to MCI operators for the training portion of the program, but employers will be responsible for travel costs to Louisville, KY where MCI Academy’s main training center is located. Crawford said businesses may qualify for state tax credits available for apprenticeship program sponsors. Local workforce development and community partners may also choose to contribute funding because of
the recently passed U.S. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Louisville’s Miller Transportation, with a 107-motor coach fleet, 183 school buses, plus shuttle and transit buses, is one of the first operators to enroll a recruit into the Motorcoach Technician Apprenticeship Program. Greg Miller, Director of Fleet Operations, explained that Matt Young, a quick service mechanic from an automobile dealership who was hired a year ago as a charter check technician, shows the “talent and character” qualifying him for apprenticeship. “It’s important to us to foster his growth, and I expect him at the completion of this program to be able to diagnose and repair any issue we see with our fleet,” said Miller.
“We see MCI Academy as an investment in the future of the changing motorcoach industry,” said Crawford. “The industry needs top trained technicians to keep fleets moving, but we also want to communicate that motorcoach technician careers are well-paying jobs with bright futures.”
Graduates of the five-year program are projected to earn salaries between $40,000-$60,000 and more based on location after completing the five-year program.