Janssen Auto Group Partners with Schools for Auto Tech Classes

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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A new school-business partnership will expand opportunities for area students interested in automotive technician careers.

Janssen Auto Group is partnering with Holdrege High School and Central Community College to create a new career development program to train automotive technicians, a job that is in high demand in the area.

Janssen Auto Group owns eight regional auto dealerships, including three in Holdrege.

Owner Dan Janssen said the local program would be modeled after a similar program in Wisconsin called “Pistons to Pathways.”

Although the details haven’t all been finalized, it is hoped that students would be able to earn dual credits for both high school and community college plus get a jump start on their career. It would be a two-year program for high school juniors and seniors.

Janssen is offering the local Ford dealership as the class meeting location and a technician to teach the class. Central Community College is working on the curriculum requirements. The Phelps County Development Corporation will pay for tuition for the first year of the program.

“If the student participated over two years, he or she could possibly get almost a full semester (12 credits) under his or her belt prior to getting to the CCC campus,” Janssen said. “Students would also receive Ford certifications through the Ford ACE (automotive career exploration) program.”

After high school graduation, Janssen said students who passed the class could start work right away for Janssen Ford or further their education through Central Community College. If they worked for Janssen right way, they would need additional training.

HHS Principal Bob Drews said the program is a win for the school and for students.

“We have kids every year who would like to know more about auto tech, and as a public school, it’s really cost prohibitive for us to start a program from scratch,” Drews said. “The access to the current materials and information from a business locally is really invaluable.”

Drews said the number of students interested in auto tech work would vary each year, but there are always students with that interest. For these students, they can get a jump start on a career, or they can discover early on that they may not enjoy this career before making an investment in college.

Drews sent a survey to students in late October to determine interest in the program and gather information on the best time of day for the class. He is hoping that the details will be ironed out by February, which is when students sign up for fall classes, and that the program could begin in the fall of 2020.

This is not the first business-school partnership at HHS.

“This type of situation isn’t completely unusual,” Drews said. “The great thing here is the individual business is the one pushing it.”

Drews said HHS had received a grant several years ago from Phelps Memorial Health Center to help pay for the costs of students to attend nursing assistant classes at CCC-Holdrege. Students received dual credit for high school and college, and the NA training was provided at no cost to the students. That program concluded when the grant funds were expended.

“We are looking forward to this new partnership and are hoping there are some other industries out there who want to be the driver of new opportunities, like Janssens,” Drews said.

High school students from other area schools would also be invited to participate in the program.

“We are thrilled for this additional opportunity to serve students from our area and expand our Early College offerings,” said Diana Watson, CCC-Holdrege’s Regional Director/International Studies Coordinator.

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said PCDC’s role in this program has been as an advocate and partner.

“Sometimes it takes employers taking that initiative to get things done,” Tillery said.

He praised Dan Janssen for taking the lead on the project and helping make it a reality.

“We are hoping other companies in town will recognize the opportunity when we see success with this one,” Tillery said.

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