Vehicles for Change (VFC), a Baltimore-based nonprofit that repairs donated vehicles and awards them to families with financial challenges for employment purposes, is set to launch its first-ever employment training program on September 23, 2013.  The program, named the Academy for Automotive Careers (AAC), will train Maryland residents from a variety of low-income backgrounds in all aspects of automotive detailing and help place them in jobs in the car wash/detailing sector.

“We’re thrilled to make the AAC operational and help unemployed Marylanders acquire skills needed to land jobs that pay a living wage,” said Martin Schwartz, president of Vehicles for Change. “The AAC continues Vehicles for Change’s commitment to help the unemployed and under-employed transition out of poverty. Our goal is to add a second training program in 2014, which would prepare students to be automotive technicians.”

The Baltimore area’s demand for automobile detailers is significant.  According to Towson University’s TowsonGlobal Business Incubator, as many as 900 detailing positions are open annually in the region.

Through the Academy, students will receive four (4) consecutive weeks of skills training in preparation washing, interior detailing, exterior polishing and waxing.  Successful completers will be offered a four (4) week paid apprenticeship at Vehicles for Change, where they will practice their newly acquired skills on vehicles donated to the nonprofit, in order to get their skills and production up to industry standards. Competitive job placements will follow the apprenticeship period.

A total of 72 students will be trained in 6-student cohorts over the course of a year.  An Employer Advisory Board will help oversee the training and serve as a potential source of employment.  Employed graduates will receive incentives to stay connected and be urged to apply to the automotive technician program when it launches. In addition to the employer advisory board, the AAC will have an overall project advisory board consisting of the community partners and workforce development experts.

Chuck Heinle, President of Diamond Detail and Rod Kraft, National Paint Finishing Consultant for Meguiar’s helped to develop the detail training program.  Both have agreed to be members of the AAC Business Advisory Board.

Training will occur at VFC’s headquarters in Halethorpe.  To gain admission, applicants need to be  referred and supported by community partners such as Associated Catholic Charities, the Baltimore Station, the Baltimore County Division of Workforce Development and the Center for Urban Families/STRIVE. Center for Urban Families/Strive will provide students for the first cohort.

“Center for Urban Families’ STRIVE program aims to place individuals into professions where they can earn a living wage,” said Joseph Jones, Founder, President & CEO of the Center for Urban Families, “Our partnership with VFC’s Academy for Automotive Careers complements this mission. We are excited to provide students for the Academy’s first cohort.”

VFC accepts donated cars from the public, repairs them, and provides these vehicles to families with financial challenges in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.  In its 14 year history, VFC has awarded more than 4,200 cars and impacted more than 14,000 families.  In 2014, VFC expects to award its 5,000th car.

Employers interested in learning about the skills training program should call Phil Holmes at 410.942.9674.

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Edited from Press Release

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