Cover Story: Teaming Up With Tech Schools

Training tomorrow's technicians: WyoTech is helping to fill the void.


“That’s the heaviest recruited area we have because of the need, and diesel is probably the most diversified program we have, simply because of the areas they can go into,” Warpness says. “The industry is very diversified as far as where our students can go to work.”

The key to providing fleets with what they need is giving every student a solid foundation of fundamental, entry-level skills. Warpness says that’s the result of working so closely with fleets.

“What we’d like to get from the industry is, ‘When an entry level guy walks into your shop, what skill sets would you like him to have in place?’ What tasks is he going to be accomplishing?’ Then we come back and can train the student toward that,” he says. “And once they get to the fleet, it’s up to them to build the other skills.”

To lay the groundwork for a future career in management, WyoTech also offers a popular, three-month program called “Applied Service Management,” and an associates’ degree. Many WyoTech graduates end up in management positions because of the opportunities provided to them at school. Warpness says that is the idea.

“Once you get into an industry, a lot of other doors open,” he says. “If you had asked me 20-some years ago when I graduated from here if I’d be the president of WyoTech Laramie, I’d have thought you fell out of a tree, but my education here opened a lot of other doors and allowed me to come back here as an instructor.”

MAKING IT

Mark Swift is another of WyoTech’s many success stories. A 1982 graduate, Swift is now the vice president of field maintenance for Penske Truck Leasing—North Central Region, but it all started when WyoTech officials took an active interest in him.

“I made an initial contact—just investigating the school—and they sent a recruiter to my hometown,” Swift says. “They were very professional.”
From day one, Swift says he knew he was a part of something special.

“They stress success,” he says. “Success when you’re there, success in your career after leaving. Their curriculum contains a lot of detailed study; it was very regimented and the teaching environment is very professional. It really helps prepare you for the real world. They really work on building your work skills and life skills.”

After graduation, Swift joined Penske in 1987 and steadily moved up the ranks. Now, he keeps an eye out for fellow WyoTech grads to fill positions.

“They’ve got the skills they need,” he says. “We’ve hired WyoTech grads in the past and we’re going to continue to cultivate our relationship. We’ve got more than 5,000 technicians across North America and we’re growing, so we’re always searching for new talent.”

Penske Truck Leasing human resources representative Shannon Prindiville says the company is a fixture at WyoTech’s recruiting events.

“One reason is the geographic availability of their students, another is the ease of working with WyoTech and the quality of their graduates,” she says. “We’ve seen superior quality and professionalism of their students, (who) come to our recruiting booths prepared for the interview with their transcripts and resumes in hand, they have a groomed, professional appearance and a thoughtful list of questions for the employers. It’s certainly an advantage, and that’s what distinguishes WyoTech.”

The Applied Service Management program is one Penske consistently draws from, Prindiville says.

“We feel that WyoTech has made a serious commitment to the future of service management and leadership through this program and its curricula,” she says. “The students come out of that program with a basic understanding of laws and guidelines governing the supervision and hiring of employees, along with some financial and business skills, so it’s an incredible advantage for a student coming to an employer like Penske with both a technical background and basic business acumen.”

NEXT GENERATION

Jason Salmon, 27, of Stockton, CA, is planning to use his nine months’ training to work in the heavy equipment or marine equipment industries. After serving in the Navy for five years, he says he appreciates the discipline instilled at WyoTech, as well as the training. With advanced diesel training under his belt, he is deciding on multiple job offers before he graduates.

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