Franklin County Technical School has agreed to a partnership with Subaru of New England to provide students with real-world automotive technology skills and experiences starting during the 2021 to 2022 school year.
As a member of the Subaru University (Subaru-U) program, Franklin Tech will develop course curriculum to complement Subaru’s own. Students will participate in much of the same entry-level training as real-world Subaru technicians, with the intention of acclimating them to the workforce. The school anticipates that undergoing this training might not only prepare students for employment opportunities, but will directly open doors to positions with Subaru after they graduate.
Steven Miss, an organizer of the partnership and automotive teacher at Franklin Tech, said one of the program’s greatest aspects is that it begins so early in the students’ vocational journey.
“In recent years, that education has become somewhat available, but mostly at post-secondary schools,” Miss said.
The education, he said, is not merely a good simulation, but the real thing.
“It’s access to Subaru’s direct curriculum,” Miss said. “The credential that they get is no different than the one you get at 25, 30 years old.”
The Subaru-U program will provide web-based training, hands-on experience with Subaru retailers and in-person co-op opportunities in Hadley, Brattleboro, Vt., and Keene, N.H. Miss said Franklin Tech will have ample flexibility to sculpt its own curriculum to supplement what Subaru brings to the table.
“In vocational education historically, automotive programs have sort of been nuts and bolts,” Miss said.
“This is really unique,” said Matt West, Franklin Tech’s director of career and technical education. “We’re a sector out of an industry that has specific curriculum for their brand.”
Franklin Tech hopes that such an immersive level of student involvement will serve as a natural bridge into the industry following the completion of Subaru-U training. West said job openings should be there for the taking, with Subaru-U alumni being prime candidates to fill them.
“I know a lot of industries that are not being back-filled,” West said.
“The hopes are that the students that shadow at these industries end up getting employed by this industry,” Miss explained.
Miss recognizes that great opportunities and resources mean little if students aren’t interested in taking advantage of them. He believes a company like Subaru in particular should interest students with its popular performance models.
“Not all kids have that spark,” Miss said. “They don’t get it. We’re trying to get back that spark, and Subaru has that performance line.”
At the end of the day, West said the school’s agreement with Subaru is an all-around win.
“This kind of collaboration is good for the kids, good for the school and good for the community,” West said.
As of now, Miss said, the Subaru-U agreement between Franklin Tech and the company lasts indefinitely.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.