The Ventura County (Calif.) fleet has benefited from its internship program with Oxnard College, optimizing duties at its operation while helping to address the technician shortage. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors recognized the partnership between the Fleet Operations Department and Oxnard College at a recent public meeting.
The School-to-Work program allows the fleet to not have to use high-cost labor to do low-cost work such as moving cars to dealerships and other vendors. Students are also taught to strip out surplus vehicles and maintain motor pool units, said Ventura County Fleet Services Manager Peter Bednar.
The program at Oxnard College was initiated by automotive program instructors in 2014. Approved in 2015, it includes the Automotive Technology and Auto Body and Fender Repair programs. These are two-year degree or certificate programs that prepare students to enter the automotive industry as entry-level technicians and provide continuous improvement training to technicians already employed in the industry.
Through the program, students work four hours per day as they continue their classes at Oxnard College; they are assigned to work at one of three sites that Fleet Operations supports.
“I would hope that a successful partnership like this can be expanded to other cities and counties. I would also hope that private sector may look at this partnership as well, because they need to understand the national shortage of mechanics and help grow their own staff,” Bednar said. “It is the right thing to do for the community and the right thing to do for your own strategic plan, to put in place a mechanism for future hiring.”