Yamaha Marine Group will formally launch its new apprenticeship program next month. Yamaha has been working with several “pilot” dealerships on beta versions of the program, according to Joe Maniscalco, Yamaha Marine’s service division manager, who is overseeing the program.
“After a year of working on the program materials, we received approval by the U.S. Department of Labor in April 2016,” said Maniscalco. “It would’ve been easy to create a book about apprenticeships and just pass it along to our dealers. But we wanted to do more than reference materials. We need to be the catalyst to allow our dealers to take it from start to finish.”
The Yamaha Marine Apprenticeship Program (YMAP) should have 40 apprentices in its first year, with higher numbers going forward. Maniscalco declined to reveal too many details about the upcoming program, but said it would be based at the dealer level, with factory support from Yamaha. “The dealer will assign a mentor and mentee at their dealership and then we provide an electronic-based learning system and knowledge portal. It’s a step-by-step roadmap for completion,” he said. “The mentee will also have direct contact with Yamaha service personnel and resource materials along the way.”
Basing the program from the dealership, says Maniscalco, will be key to its success. “You can’t learn our trade better anywhere else,” he said. “And when dealers do invest in an apprentice and send them to our facilities, we provide customized training. They’ll get targeted training with groups of peers and we’ll gain apprentice communities we can start to develop.”
The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) estimates that about 31,000 jobs will be unfilled at the dealer level by 2019. Many of those are tech jobs. Ben Speciale, Yamaha Marine Group President, said his company recognized the need for skilled technical labor coming out of the recession. “Our apprenticeship program will be a good way for our company to address that,” Speciale told Trade Only Today at the American Boating Congress (ABC). Yamaha has about 2,000 dealerships in the U.S.A.
“We think this partnership will reduce the stress on dealers to train skilled workers and the specific approaches we’re using will help us develop their workforces,” said Maniscalco. “We’ll do that by using the latest technology and providing centralized support. We want to train people who will be knowledgeable about our latest products and technologies.”
The company’s long-term goal is to develop a larger training program, according to Maniscalco. “My boss [Speciale] is very enthusiastic about this issue,” he said. “He challenged me to create an environment where we can grow technicians, so we’re doing that.” Eventually, the engine and boat builder would like to launch the Yamaha Marine Technician Factory.