In response to the changing employment needs of area communities, Kaskaskia College is continually updating, expanding, and enlarging its course offerings and degree and certificate programs. A new certificate, Automotive Parts Specialist Certificate, still has slots remaining for the Fall 2013 Semester.
The automotive parts technology program is a one-year certificate program that will complement the existing automotive trades programs on campus. The automotive parts industry has become very technical, which requires specialized skills (ASE certified Auto Parts Specialist, or ASE P2). The goal of the program is to supply automotive parts stores with qualified employees. The automotive parts technology program will develop in students the necessary skills to succeed in the broad area of automotive parts store operation. The knowledge areas and skills developed will include basic computer operation, communication, automotive parts management, automotive parts identification, pricing strategies, and inventory control. Graduates of the program will be employed by automotive parts stores, automotive dealers, and larger fleet operations at construction companies or municipalities and institutions that have their own fleets and maintenance operations.
The 18 credit hour certificate program is one of a kind in the state, according to Professor Chuck DeBernardi, who is heading up the program. “With auto parts retailers turning toward ASE P2 certifications for their employees, we expect that our program will draw students from a wide area.” Although the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) does conduct testing on the Kaskaskia College campus, it is not included in the program tuition. DeBernardi expects his graduates to be well-versed in the areas tested by the ASE and will be prepared to take the examination.
Renovations were also completed in the automotive technology area of the college to accommodate the program. Included is a automotive parts lab, complete with a service counter, computer terminals, UPC scanner, and a parts inventory to train students in conditions replicating a retail parts store. While the lab will not be open to the public, the automotive trades on campus will act as customers, ordering parts for use in the automotive and collision repair programs.
KC is working in partnership with NAPA/McKay Auto Parts, which has 18 locations in Central Illinois. McKay will supply the college with parts and computer software. “This is truly a partnership,” said Earl Flack, President of McKay. “We have 165 employees, and it’s hard to find qualified, ASE certified counter people. We are hoping to turn KC graduates into our people.”
Professor DeBernardi stressed that, while the program will be using NAPA TAMS software, the technology is very similar to that used by other retailers, and that the skills taught will be applicable in other areas as well. “This is useful training in any kind of warehousing job,” DeBernardi said, “and students will be learning customer service skills that apply anywhere.”