Ford Dealer Gives Cars and Careers to KTEC – Coeur d’Alene Press | CarTailz


Auto dealership students love to take things apart and put them back together, so students at the Kootenai Technical Education Campus in Rathdrum were thrilled on Tuesday when KTEC received a donation of two 2014 Ford vehicles.

“It sounds like it’s rattling a bit,” said one student as he accelerated while another student sat in the driver’s seat.

The Ford Fiesta and Focus donated by Ford Motor Company and Coeur d’Alene dealer Mike White Ford are the highest-profile donations KTEC has received to date, said KTEC Director Colby Mattila, with a combined value of around $20,000.

Representatives from Ford Motor Company, including technical talent placement specialist Joe Bahna, came to support and encourage students in their career paths.

“We’ve worked a lot with KTEC,” said Chelsea White, service manager for Mike White Ford. “We’ve had a number of students who have been great additions to our team.”

The car dealership employs nine people in its service department who are hired as KTEC graduates.

The Mattila and KTEC board of directors develop close ties with Ford Motor Company and Mike White Ford through Ford’s corporate training program, Automotive Career Exploration or ACE.

ACE takes Ford Motor Company’s in-house training program used to teach its mechanics and converts it into a curriculum for local trade schools.

Of the 645 participating national schools, KTEC ranks first with 2,100 ACE courses completed.

KTEC instructors like Jack Neal have incorporated the curriculum into their teaching structure to provide students with essential skills that can be transferred to other makes of car and to prepare students for work in the automotive industry.

“I wanted to fill in the gaps that I felt were missing when I went through this program…” Neal said. “It’s huge how many opportunities these kids have that I didn’t have when I came here.”

Mattila and trainers like Neal work with Mike White Ford Service Director Ed Baker to develop and grow a strong workforce for the future.

“This industry has been my life since I got into it,” Baker said.

In high school, he said, he was told he was going to college but wanted to go to trade school.

Baker was instrumental in working with KTEC and Ford Motor Company to build the ACE program within the school. He has orchestrated engine donations to get better resources and support from Ford and uses his connections to build his community.

The donations from Ford Motor Company and Mike White Ford will remain in the school store as long-term training tools for the program’s students, and the vehicles have been renamed never to hit the road again.

Typically, KTEC repairs and sells older vehicle donations to fund student resources, including new and modern tools for the lab, or to cover travel expenses to competitions.

They take broken vehicle donations, repair them, and sell them for a small profit to buy bonus materials based on industry demand.

Because these cars are of such high quality and so much newer than other donations, the lab will keep them for future courses.

The vehicles are repaired, demolished, rebuilt and have the ability to influence and teach hundreds of students.

Chelsea White said her family is excited to give back to the community and contribute to the work of KTEC with these donations.

“We certainly have our internal motives,” White said. “It’s obviously about improving our organization and encouraging students to be better equipped to enter the workforce.”

Mike White Ford offers job shadowing to students selected by instructors and often hires students from them.

Ashton Fowler was hired from a shadow job at Mike White Ford in 2019 while graduating from KTEC.

“I know a lot of people in my family who haven’t been able to do their jobs,” Fowler said. “But after that I still worked, still had a place there. Love it, Mike takes really good care of us.”

Fowler participated in the vehicle donation on his day off to support the students and the automotive program.

“There aren’t that many young people coming into the tech field,” White said.

She sees a hole in the job offer, so her company is trying to make its own employees competitive.

“It’s gratifying to look back at the people we’ve hired who have become very successful,” said White.

Earlier this year, 100% of seniors graduated from the program with a job already posted. The 186 students received an average of four job offers per student.

Baker said this is an opportunity for her to help young employees grow and become successful.

“Our communities cannot survive without artisans,” he said.

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