Through a unique partnership between the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) and the Community College System of New Hampshire’s Auto Tech programs, local workers are headed back to the classroom to boost their skills free of charge. The NHADA “Workforce Training Reimbursement Grant” will be tapped to send dozens of employees to various advanced automotive technology programs at schools like Lakes Region Community College.
“This is a fantastic way to invest in workers locally and make sure our industry remains attractive to our employees,” explains Pete McNamara, President of the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association. “Our industry continues to scramble to find qualified people to fill the many positions we have open for high-quality, good-paying jobs. This grant is a great way to keep people from leaving for other jobs.”
Laconia’s Irwin Toyota is one of the first dealerships in New Hampshire to take advantage of the workforce grant program. Irwin is providing full tuition for one of its up and coming Toyota technicians, Jeremie LaPlante, a Laconia resident and second-year student in the Toyota Technician Education Network (Toyota T-TEN) program at Lakes Region Community College (LRCC). LaPlante will have his entire second year of automotive coursework paid for by Irwin’s, which will be partially reimbursed by NHADA.
“We need to grow our own workforce, and this grant program will provide customized training opportunities for entry-level workers, which helps meet consumer demand by preparing our people to handle better the rapid technological advancements occurring in the automotive industry,” says Chris Irwin, President of Irwin Automotive Group. “This program also opens the door to career advancement and increased wages, and to build employee and customer loyalty.”
In recent years, several New Hampshire dealers have used this grant program to pay for a class here and there for workers, but Irwin is the first to take full advantage by going all-in for Jeremie LaPlante. The Irwin family is a strong leader in the Lakes Region, and the Irwin Automotive Group has been an important part of the local economy for nearly 70 years. The Irwin Automotive Group sponsors several local youth sports teams and many local charities, and it strongly encourages employee involvement in the community.
LaPlante started the program with no formal training in automotive service. Still, he had a strong desire to learn. His T-TEN faculty and mentors saw this quality and have been involved and dedicated to helping him. In particular, managers’ and technicians’ support has helped him turn his interest and curiosity about cars into a career. “As the youngest member of the 2019-2021 Toyota T-TEN class, Jeremie has shown a high level of maturity that we really appreciate. He did not come from an automotive background but has risen to be one of the top students in his class. Jeremie is always one of the first students to complete the tasks assigned correctly. He sees a difficult task as an opportunity, not a roadblock,” says LRCC T-TEN Instructor Brian Ellis.
Jeremie will leave the program in May 2021 with:
- An AAS degree
- A long list of Toyota training credentials
- Two years of on the job experience
- A good-paying job with opportunities for continued growth
Thanks to the Irwin Automotive Group, he will also be virtually debt-free.
“This year presents a unique challenge in awarding these scholarships to students around New Hampshire. We decided to take our good news on the road and go door to door to deliver the news, along with a little ‘sign of success’ for their achievement,” says Peter McNamara, NHADA President.
Pete McNamara, President