With a $588,072 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Southwest Virginia Community College (Southwest) is in the process of launching an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Training Center in an existing facility on the main campus. The College has reorganized the maintenance operations on campus and consolidating all functions to operate out of a single building rather than two. The vacant maintenance building is available to be used as the site for the ASE Training Center. 

Southwest is creating an Automotive Diagnostics and Repair Career Studies Certificate program that will consist of a credit-based, fast-track, short-term curriculum to prepare students for entry-level automotive technician positions. In Phase 1, Southwest will offer specialized curricula and certifications in conjunction with the Snap-On Education Program and the National Coalition of Certifications Centers (NC3). In Phase 2, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) student certifications will be integrated into the curriculum.  In Phase 3, Southwest will secure full accreditation from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The automotive, transportation, heavy-duty, and diesel fields are going through a period of unprecedented transformation, therefore, training and certification in the latest technologies is becoming more and more critical.  The median salary for these positions is $28,558/year.  Experienced workers can earn up to $46,465.

Last year, 31 companies posted 271 jobs for Automotive Specialty Technicians within a 50-mile radius of the College. Recent postings included Goodyear Tire, Army National Guard, Wal-Mart stores, Bridgestone Corporation, Limestone Dust Corporation, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Wallace Collision Center. While many individual businesses may only employ from 2-9 technicians, the large number of businesses needing to hire automotive technicians contributes to a substantially inadequate labor pool in the region.  Graduates of the program would be eligible for jobs as automotive technicians, automotive service managers, service writers, service advisors, heavy equipment technicians, small engineer repair technicians, and warranty administrators.

Program Description:

Southwest will develop curricula for the Automotive Diagnostic and Program in conjunction with the Snap-On Education Program and the National Coalition of Certifications Centers (NC3). This will allow the College to leverage more than 90 years of industry knowledge and tool expertise of the Snap-On program in the development of product certification courses.  The courses will serve as a significant enhancement to the curricula currently taught in today’s technical classrooms. These certification courses place emphasis on tool use, theory and application – three areas that make students more well-rounded, skilled and proficient on the job. The certifications are not an add-on, but rather are integrated into the existing courses.

The goal for specialized curricula and certifications is to provide conformity and an across-the-board standard for training centers to teach instruction on the three areas of tool use, theory and application. The certification training is a collaborative effort between Snap-on and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), which is a network of education partners and corporations that supports advances in workforce skills in the transportation, aviation, manufacturing and energy sectors.

Southwest will offer Snap-On certifications in the following areas: Automotive Scanner Diagnostics, Electronic and Mechanical Torque, Wheel Service and Alignment; Rotor Matching Master Technician Certification.

Southwest is confident this initiative presents an excellent investment that will yield a measurable return on investment because it will prepare workers for highly-skilled, high-demand jobs and have a very positive impact on the local economy. From start to finish, this program offers all the necessary instruction, course work, hands-on training, support services, and financial assistance to successfully complete the training and pass the certification exams offered.