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Bakersfield Truck Center takes training to new level

For Liberty High’s Jose G. and Arvin High’s Jesus P. opportunity knocked early in life, and both answered enthusiastically.

Opportunity first came in the form of being accepted into ROC’s Ag Diesel Mechanics program at the beginning of their junior years. Their first semester diligence in Mr. Faubus’s class led to a second semester internship at Bakersfield Truck Center. Both boys seized the opportunity – so much so that they caught the attention of Bakersfield Truck Center Service Manager Doren Grohs.

Grohs knew it would be impractical to bring the still fresh-faced boys onto his highly-trained staff, especially as both still had their senior year of high school ahead of them, but he also wanted to stoke their passions and develop their talents.

That is when he had a brainstorm.

In an amazing testament to the lengths ROC industry-partners will go to in order to train our students, Grohs developed an innovative opportunity for his two young interns. And again, both boys answered the call.

Jose and Jesus were brought on under the auspices of the Bakersfield Truck Center paid apprenticeship program, a program developed and launched exclusively for them. The boys will work up to 20 hours per week from June to May of their senior year while also taking a second year of Mr. Faubus’s ROC class and their required home school classes.

Under the terms of the apprenticeship program, which Bakersfield Truck Center operates independently of ROC, both students will be required to maintain a minimum GPA, will have their progress reviewed weekly by Mr. Grohs and their supervisors, and will only be trained under the tutelage of midlevel or journeymen technicians.

At the time of our interview, both trainees had recently cashed their first paycheck, so enthusiasm was running high.  A paid job in a professional atmosphere during one’s senior year is exciting, but the terms of the apprenticeship run much deeper than that.

Students are also required to complete online dealer training within a specified time period. When finished, the apprentices will be System Certified in:

  • Freightliner and Western Star Chassis,
  • Detroit Engines (DD Series engines, DT12 transmissions and axles), and
  • Cummins Virtual Academy Heavy Duty Engines.

Bakersfield Truck Center has doubled-down on their apprenticeship program by offering, free-of-charge, the above online training to all students enrolled in ROC’s Ag Diesel Mechanics program.

“I’m not pulling any punches,” states Grohs. “This is the same training my staff must complete. I want the students to learn; I’m looking out for them long-term”

That long-term benefit may eventually lead to regular employment for the students. Mr. Grohs has indicated that they would be ideal job candidates upon graduation from high school or, should they elect to continue their education at a trade school, he’d be able to hire them at an even higher wage.

“There is value in this training. Whether they work for my dealership or for another, the need for quality mechanics is real and the pay and career growth can be substantial,” said Grohs.

The hope is that Jose and Jesus will refine their skills both at their job and in their ROC class during their senior year. Grohs would then like to take on two new ROC trainees in their junior year come second semester of the coming school year and hopefully then continue the apprenticeship program into the future by hiring them during their senior year.

Grohs continued, “I can’t very well complain about the lack of quality job candidates if I’m not willing to make this sort of commitment to ROC and its students.”

Kudos to Bakersfield Truck Center for taking serious the training of our career-minded youth. Grohs, along with Jose and Jesus, have set the bar high for employers and students alike. Ideally more employers will work with ROC to provide students innovative opportunities, and, just as important, students will answer that call.