Hill College, North Texas Automobile Dealers launch Auto Tech Apprenticeship Program

North Texas Automobile Dealers Association Chairman Charlie Gilchrist and Hill College President Dr. Pam Boehm were joined by their teams to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the new Auto Tech Apprenticeship program at the college’s Cleburne Technical Center.

Hill College is providing college-to-career opportunities for its students pursuing an automotive technology degree or certification with the help of the North Texas Automobile Dealers (NTXAD) Registered Apprenticeship for Automotive Service Technicians program.

Students enrolled in Hill College’s automotive technology program who meet NTXAD’s program criteria will be matched as apprentices with partnering dealerships in the north Texas area, including Don Davis Auto Group’s Ford and Nissan dealerships in Arlington, Five Star Subaru of Grapevine, and Hiley Hyundai and Hiley Mazda in Fort Worth.

The apprenticeship, which follows a work-based learning model and competency-based instruction, will last between 18 and 24 months and provide students with 364 contact hours of related technical instructional hours and 3,000 hours of on-the-job-learning. All apprentices are required to serve the dealership that hires them for three months, which equates to 500 on-the-job learning hours.

“We are excited about this program and the benefits it will provide,” said Hill College’s dean of instruction for business and industry, Brian Bennett. “The program will supply choices of employment to students, which helps the community and Hill College. And since their ability to earn is based upon their skills, this should give students a head start in their careers.”

In fact, apprentices in the program will begin earning while they learn. Beginning students with little to no experience will start at $10 an hour, and wages can increase from there within some limitations. And jump starting their career by participating in the program could potentially lead to even higher earnings for students down the road.

According to NTXAD’s website, the average salary nationwide for automotive technicians at new dealerships is $61,000 plus benefits, and top technicians and mangers can make upwards of $100,000. The current shortage of technicians nationwide means jobs are in high demand, including in the North Texas area, and interested students have a range of career options.

“Toyota says there will be need for 54,000 techs industry-wide in the next 10 years,” said Bennett. “Students can work at dealerships, independent garages, tire stores, own their own business or go back to school to become managers and directors.”

Hill College Vice President of Instruction Dr. Kerry Schindler said the program is a win-win for students, the college and the industry.

“This apprenticeship program has the support of the industry, which is a huge part of what makes these programs successful,” Schindler said. “Theory and classroom work are important, but hands-on experience is the other half of the coin for learning to occur. This program will give our students the ability to have varied and unique learning opportunities to begin practicing in real life what they are learning in the classroom.”

Hill College’s automotive technology program offers an associate of applied science degree (60 credit hours), certificate of technology in advanced automotive repair (46 credit hours), and certificates of completion in automotive repair technology (32 credit hours) and basic automotive repair (16 credit hours).

Enrollment is currently open for the fall 2021 semester, and 16-week and first 8-week courses begin Aug. 23. Students can apply online at https://www.hillcollege.edu/Admissions_Aid/ApplyNow/Index.html. For more information about Hill College’s automotive technology program, visit https://www.hillcollege.edu/Academics/Business-Industry/AutoTech.html.

HC students earn All-Texas recognition

Hill College Phi Kappa Theta (PTK) chapter president Marites “Thess” Mitchell and chapter member Abigail Sympson were recently honored at the 2021 All-Texas Academic Team Virtual Medallion Ceremony, hosted by The University of Texas System and the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Nominees were evaluated on several criteria, including academic achievement, community service, leadership and expression.

“To be recognized for outstanding academic achievement as top community college students is an honor because only a very few from 34 Texas community colleges are selected,” said Hill College PTK advisor and psychology instructor Jim Williamson. “We are very proud of Thess and Abigail.”

Sympson plans to attend Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth and major in biology after graduating from Hill College this spring. In her free time, Sympson volunteers to clean up the city and helps her church with childcare.

“I joined PTK because not only is it a fun way to meet more people, but it also makes you feel proud that you’re doing well in school,” she said. “PTK has impacted my life in a major way.”

Mitchell will graduate in the fall with her Associate’s degree and plans to continue her education in nursing at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene. Mitchell became chapter president last year and has volunteered for numerous campus events. Most of her volunteer efforts are focused on the Rebel Resource PTK Pantry, where she assists with restocking, weekly inventory, making connections with donors and sponsors, and teaching students how to utilize pantry resources.

As an immigrant student, Mitchell said PTK has provided her with scholarship, leadership and service opportunities, as well as with a great sense of belonging.