One of the biggest challenges facing today’s workforce is the technical skills gap, partly created by a lack of accessible education opportunities for young professionals. To combat this challenge, Bridgestone and Firestone Complete Auto Care in collaboration with United Way of Summit County and Akron Public Schools (APS) developed the Bridgestone Academy of Applied Engineering and Technology which brought a Firestone Complete Auto Care (FCAC) to East Community Learning Center (CLC) in October 2018.
To create the center, APS retrofitted a portion of the existing automotive technology lab at East CLC in conjunction with Bridgestone, which donated materials, fixtures, and point-of-sale systems. The center comes complete with software programs, a customer waiting area and equipment to service vehicles, creating a real-world experience for the students. All revenue generated from service and sales will be reinvested into the program. The center’s goal is to provide students with the skills they need to not only be employable but to be prepared for their personal and professional journeys.
Through the program, students complete the Automotive Service Excellence certified curriculum and may earn certifications before graduation. Students receive hands-on experience by spending part of their semester training in the auto shop serving real customers, where they learn both the technical aspects of the job by providing limited auto maintenance services to the local community. In addition, Bridgestone provides mentorship and internship opportunities to students in the Akron area.
As an active member of the Akron community, Bridgestone is committed to creating new pathways for students to thrive and find their place in the future of mobility. The center reflects our dedication to educating the next generation of automotive and retail professionals, using the latest technology, operational procedures and business practices offered in our FCAC tire and automotive service centers.
Bridgestone Akron Area Manager Bill Wilson, who began his career as a technician and has progressed to managing multiple stores in the Akron area through his tenure, said during an interview that he is excited for the career opportunities the center provides students, and for the chance they will have to get an early glimpse into the automotive industry while still in school.
This type of authentic teaching and learning and business partnerships thrive in Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) communities. Akron Public Schools and The Academies of Akron are members of the Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) network of communities. Ford NGL assists communities with designing and implementing community-connected career academies by providing a framework, process, facilitation, and tools. Bridgestone has made an enormous commitment to supporting The Academies of Akron through this innovative program. For more information on Ford NGL: www.FordNGL.com
Written by: Bob Lux, Consumer Program Engineering, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
For more information about the East Community Learning Center, visit https://www.akronschools.com/.