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Knowledge is power

October 11, 2010
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It seems that in every industry, job market, and facet of life, demands are being made for more education and a higher degree of professionalism and expertise.

According to the US Census Bureau, the number of people earning a college degree has risen each year from 21.3 percent in 1990 to 27.2 percent in 2003.

The car-care industry appears to be mirroring these changes. Individuals entering the industry seem to have a more extensive educational resume and goals.

Encouraging education
Now more than ever before, it appears that the car-care industry is recognizing and promoting the importance of education.

The International Carwash Association (ICA) has sponsored an annual scholarship for the past five years for employees or direct relatives of an employee of an ICA member business, except for relatives of the owner.

The applicants must be enrolled or accepted at an accredited post-secondary school.

Mark Thorsby, the executive director of the ICA said that the scholarship has two goals:

  1. To recognize people who have begun to distinguish themselves in their community and the carwash business; and
  2. To try to stimulate and encourage continued education and the pursuit of a college degree on the part of carwash employees and their family.

Likewise, the Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) offers a scholarship opportunity to part-time and full-time employees of AOCA member fast lube facilities currently attending college or technical school or set to attend in the fall of 2005.

The Car Care Council Women’s Board is another institution that recently joined the growing number of groups offering scholarship opportunities; they are moving into their third year of offering an annual scholarship specifically for qualified female applicants.

According to Thorsby, in the future the industry may see more associations offering scholarships; the key being that the scholarships tie to the mission of the group.

The assumption is that there will also be more individuals utilizing the financial assistance options available, and the number of young people earning a degree will continue to increase.

More than just a piece of paper
Vanessa Cappadona is one individual who recognized the benefit of the Car Care Council Women’s Board scholarship.

As a driven female in the male-dominated car-care industry she utilized the scholarship she won to attend college with hopes of one day opening a hot rod shop.

Cappadona, of Florence, KY, is studying at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH, and was the recipient of the Car Care Council Women’s Board scholarship in 2004.

Jennifer Tio, president of the Women’s Board told Professional Carwashing & Detailing that the scholarship program they sponsor was created to support continuing education at new levels of the car-care industry.

Tio said that the scholarship, which has no age limit, aims to encourage women to enter the automotive care industry at all levels in a variety of positions, both technical and managerial.

Cappadona is certainly striving for a high level; she plans to become master certified in automotive technology by Daimler Chrysler and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

But, although Cappadona believes in the benefits of education, she was disappointed to admit that many of her co-workers in the industry don’t share the same enthusiasm.

“Most of the guys I work with think it’s (an associate’s degree) nothing more than a piece of paper,” she said. “I have to bite my tongue and walk away because I believe it’s very important. I’m the first person in my family to go to college and it’s a big deal to me.”

Cappadona chose to attend college at Sinclair because of the high performance classes they offer, despite the higher bills the out-of-state tuition left her with.

Automotive BA
The Michigan campus of Northwood University has taken automotive education one step further. They now offer a bachelor’s degree program in Automotive Aftermarket Management.

Although this program doesn’t directly affect all carwashes and detail shops, it does represent a significant change in the automotive care industry.

Courses focus on management and marketing, but also on technological skills such as working with cooling systems, internal combustion engines, and transmission knowledge.

According to the college’s website it, “is the only university that specifically prepares students for this 140 billion dollar industry. The degree in Aftermarket Management involves the manufacturing, distribution and sales of automotive parts, supplies, accessories, tools and shop equipment.”

The Car Care Council Women’s Board will award a scholarship to a female student enrolled in Northwood University’s program in 2005.

Tio told PC&D that the council is supporting the University’s program because it wants to encourage the expansion of interest in the industry and believes the program is very unique.

Northwood’s program is also indicative of the growing interest in the automotive industry and the increased need for continued education.

Students studying at Northwood will be the first to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Aftermarket Management and are an encouraging example of how dedicated and determined the future workers in the car-care industry look to be.