Yamaha Marine Group is investing “substantial resources” in Yamaha Marine University in 2018, using a multipronged approach to address an industrywide service technician shortage as well as increase training opportunities in other sectors.
New initiatives will include a much anticipated apprenticeship program for developing skilled dealer technicians, as well as classroom training, online modules, trade school collaborations and online education modules.
The company also will provide resources and support to vocational school marine training programs.
“One of the key pillars to our company Yamaha Outboards is service, and customer satisfaction is based on the customer’s experience not only with the product, but on the experience he has at the dealership,” Yamaha Marine Group service division manager Joe Maniscalco told Trade Only Today.
Customers understand when issues occur, but they don’t understand when those issues can’t be dealt with quickly and effectively. “That’s where service plays such a key role,” Maniscalco said.
Training at Yamaha Marine has always fallen under the Yamaha Marine University label, but now the company is creating clear strategies and targets for achieving specific results.
“When I first became head of service, what I and my team realized was that it’s bigger than what we do here in our building,” Maniscalco said. “We needed to expand and focus on core initiatives, which were to develop specific career paths for the marine industry. The No. 1 focus was dealership technicians. That was the No. 1 challenge at dealerships — not finance, not finding customers — it was finding and retaining qualified personnel, namely technicians.”
Yamaha Marine University will focus on four pillars — career development training, service management training, technical training, and sales training, the company said in a statement.
“The biggest thing for us right now is the technical school partnership programs,” Maniscalco said, especially as there is pressure nationwide to increase interest in vocational programs and make them as attractive as four-year college tracks.
“You don’t have to go to four-year college and get your degree and move on a master’s degree to have a productive, honorable position in a company or trade,” Maniscalco said. “The opportunity for the industry to support these institutions is huge.”
Providing technical schools with resources, information, products, guidance and certification paths will help graduates enter the workforce more prepared, he said.
“Some of these schools are state-funded and have very little budget,” Maniscalco said. “They can’t afford to pay to support the industry to teach the students about the current products out there.”
“I don’t think the industry as a whole has looked at these institutions and provided support, and we’re going to change that,” Maniscalco said. “We are changing that, and I hope the industry follows. It only helps us grow our base of marine technicians.”