General Motors-Automotive Service Educational Program
In the spring of 1981, General Motors started an innovative program of education that opened new doors for those interested in automotive technical training. General Motors calls it ASEP, which is an acronym for Automotive Service Educational Program. It is a two-year training program that is offered through community colleges and GM dealerships. It features a blend of class-room training mixed with on-the-job experience. Today sixty-five colleges in the United States and sixteen colleges in Canada are affiliated.
One of the schools involved in the cooperative program is Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Triton's program is typical of those offered at other community colleges across the nation. The school works closely with the auto manufacturers to keep its curriculum up to date. One example is Triton's GM affiliation. (Note: Triton also works with other car manufacturers and models.)
Basically the GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) is designed to upgrade the technical competence and professional level of the incoming dealership technician. The curriculum is designed by General Motors, in cooperation with the college, and it does provide for a two-year associate degree in automotive service technology. The student must go to school and work at one of the dealerships. For example, the student may spend the first 11 weeks at the college and follows that up with 8 weeks at the dealership in the first semester. The student then goes back to school for another 11 weeks followed by 8 more weeks in the dealership, and so on. The work at the dealership is supposed to parallel as closely as possible what the student learned in class.
Since considerable time is spent at the dealership, it is a requirement of the program that the student have the sponsoring of a General Motors dealer. If you can't find a sponsoring dealer, you can write directly to the General Motors. Address your request to the ASEP General Motors Service Technology Group, 1650 Research Drive, Suite 200, Troy, MI 48083. In addition to the instructional program, students also may work part-time at the dealership to help pay for their tuition, but it is not necessary.
Tuition will vary from school to school, usually ranging between $3,000 to $5,000 a year, for students who live in-district. You'll have to add the necessary books for the entire program. Those living outside the district must pay an additional premium. You may be able to secure an out-of-district authorization from your home community college to get the in-district rate. Contact the admissions officer at your local community college.
In addition to the tuition and books, the student will be expected to buy the necessary hand tools, which will probably run about $600 to begin with and an additional $250 in tools as you go along.
Although at present the program is limited to those who can obtain dealership sponsorship, it is highly possible that the training may be offered to the aspiring technician at large, so it would be a good idea to contact your community college and find out.
The following car manufacturers, among others, might be able to supply you with additional information in the form of brochures, booklets, and other materials. Since they all offer training programs, they will be glad to explain their programs and how you can enroll.
There is yet another way for the "green" person to break into the field of auto-motive technician. Say that you are looking for a job and all the employers you meet want only someone with experience or training. The obvious question you might well ask is, "If they only hire people with experience, how can I get experience unless someone hires me?" It is a vicious circle. One way to break that circle is with an internship.
For a minimum wage, or perhaps no wage at all, you may be able to get a job at a local service station or independent repair shop. You may have to accept menial jobs until you can demonstrate that you are capable of more responsible work. But remember, you are making an investment in your future. You may even discover that the occupation is not for you. This way you've spent nothing but some time, and you've learned an important lesson.
Ask your counselor for books on the subject.