Ford and Skyline Automotive form partnership


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Ford Motor Company donated a 2014 Ford Focus and more to the Skyline College Automotive Department in a mutual-benefit partnership. The agreement will broaden training for staff and students on Ford technologies, create internships for students at local Serramonte Ford, and will likely benefit the community with added workers and jobs.

Thomas Broxholm, a professor and program coordinator of the Automotive Technology department at Skyline College, learned of the new program that would help his students and curriculum. Broxholm set out to acquire it through Serramonte Ford, a local division of Ford Automotive that also has held a place on Skyline Automotive’s advisory board and program for approximately 20 years. This new partnership is a part of the Ford Automotive Career Exploration (ACE) program and it may benefit everyone involved.

The perks for students and the school, outside of getting a more thorough education, are as varied as the technologies. While some partnerships with automotive companies offer tuition reimbursements, pocket calculators or t-shirts, the Ford ACE program offers vehicles, tools, technology, and training that Skyline students wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

“It’s a no brainer, it’s a win-win for everybody, and our goal is to get students interested in Ford products so that they will want to go work for Ford,” Broxholm said. “It benefits them, it benefits our students, and it benefits the college here as well; we get access to online Ford training, we get access to factory training a technician would go to, and we get the donations.”

The partnership agreements are somewhat open-ended overall. Meaning, if a company wants 20 people in its program and there are fewer, it’s not really an issue, which keeps things about education.

Regardless, programs like this are part of a growing trend, because there just aren’t enough technicians to fill the need that vehicle manufacturers have, especially in the Bay Area, Broxholm expressed.

“There’s a huge shortage of technicians right now,” Broxholm said. “What’s happening is, the Baby Boomers are retiring, and the people in their ’40s and ’50s are moving to MUNI, SamTrans, and working for the municipalities; and the benefits working for the city or government are far better than working for a dealership. There’s a huge void.”

But there are also a number of technicians from that generation who are not only staying with their positions but also joining the educators to help grow new talent.

Tuan Ton is the shop foreman for Serramonte Ford in Daly City. He’s also a member of Skyline College Automotive Technology’s Advisory Committee as a liaison for Ford and its technology. Tuan has been an automotive technician for about 30 years, since his graduation from Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, and he has made it his goal to help his community and the next generation of technicians.

“I graduated from community college and I believe that’s the right way to groom the next wave of technologists,” Ton said via a telephone interview. “We like to pass down the experiences we’ve been through because it requires a lot of critical thinking and training to work with the systems. We give them the right steps from the start.”

One student among the next wave of automotive technicians is Marc Hidalgo, a former construction worker who changed his career because of an injury. A second-year Automotive Technology major at Skyline, Hidalgo, also works full-time for Audi in San Francisco; it was through a similar program to Ford’s ACE program that he was able to work to where he is today.

“I just happened to land a job through Professor Julia Johnson’s internship program with Royal Motors, which is also Audi San Francisco,” Hidalgo said. “Having the ability to receive some factory training from a specific manufacturer, and then the chance for an internship and possible employment in the end, which I have received, is big.”

Partnership agreements like the ACE program don’t just help the companies, they give educators resources to teach, further student’s education and employment goals, and add to the Skyline College community and beyond.

Mark Griffith
Skyline Auto students work on vehicles in class at Skyline College on Oct. 4, 2018.