Technical Schools, Workplaces Under the Magnifying Glass

Reader defends tech school standards, but agrees that technicians deserve more respect in the workplace


Dear "Name Withheld,"
I have a couple of things I would like to say on behalf of your letter. The first is addressing the Technical School issue; where you claim only the "less motivated" and "less gifted are deposited." I for one take great offense to that statement: having graduated from a tech school in 1978. I have had a long and successful career as both a Heavy Vehicle Technician, and as of three years ago, a Heavy Vehicle Instructor at one of your so called less than "gifted" schools. I enjoy teaching students who want to learn, as well, I enjoy getting the timid students to learn by whatever means possible. As for out of date (30 year old) learning, all I can say is that the "Fundamentals" of whatever system you are working on really haven't changed. You must learn to crawl before you will ever walk. If the basics are not learned and mastered, then troubleshooting (very much lacking these days) will never be mastered either. Bear in mind that most tech schools are there for that purpose and that it takes more than just a "few" courses to be a good technician. If you are looking for more advanced schooling, than an OEM type school is probably what you need. Remember, most times "what you put in" will determine "what you get out." One last thought on this subject: didn't you tour the school and check the curriculum before signing on the dotted line?

The next issue addresses the working conditions of where you are employed. On that matter I have to agree for the most part: there are too many shops just like the one you describe. I have a couple of ideas on that subject I would like to share with you. First, have you discussed any of this with your employer? It seems that if you don't have proper equipment to work with, that your shop must experience a lot of "comebacks." It would be cheaper to buy the equipment than to have the trucks breaking down or techs standing around waiting to use a jack. If you have and had no results, then remember two things: first, make sure you deduct your tool expenses from your taxes; and second, in the almost thirty years around this trade, I have never seen the opportunities for good technicians as great as they are today. If you are that unhappy, why not look for a better place of employment?

The last thing to address is the employer's assessment of employees. It is very frustrating to be working in a shop where it seems good deeds go unrewarded and mediocrity is the norm. One thing to consider is; not everyone has the same work ethic and feels the same about the career path they have chosen or succumb to. Don't let it turn your attitude bitter because as I stated earlier, there are plenty of good companies looking for good help. If it already has (sounds like it), then it's time to move on.

The last paragraph of your letter says it loud and clear. Good Luck!

G. Alan Hemingway
Heavy Vehicle Instructor
Advanced Technology Institute
Virginia Beach, VA.

Alan,
Thanks for responding with your thoughtful suggestions. The letter we printed from "Name Withheld" in our June issue was filled with genuine frustration, and brought up some issues that aren't often discussed. There probably are some technical schools that don't measure up, but cutting Federal funding to them (the issue "NW" was commenting on) certainly won't help the problem.

As for the workplace compaints, you're right that there are many opportunities for talented technicians out there; let's hope "NW" lives in an area where some worthwhile options are available.
–Editor

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