The Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) is offering a $4,500 set of mechanic’s tools free to Pennsylvania junior and senior high school students who enroll in the PRVCA’s apprenticeship program.
Sets of Matco Tools discounted by $2,000 also are available to others participating in PRVCA’s Internet-based distance-learning program, the National RV Training Institute schools (NRVTI) in Pennsylvania and four other states and the national satellite training program supervised by the National Recreation Vehicle Service Training Council (RVSTC).
“There should be strong push for recruiting new people into the industry,” said Greg DeWalt, chairman of the PRVCA’s education foundation and owner of DeWalt’s RV in Easton. “This is a carrot. The guys that I hire usually don’t have any tools.”
The Pennsylvania “Tools for Techs” program is an extension of a program Matco Tools of Stow, Ohio has promoted in the automobile service industry for several years. “We think this is a great stepping stone for students to get involved with Matco Tools,” said Matco sales representative Calvin Jones, who assisted DeWalt in setting up the RV program.
Students enrolled in the apprenticeship program receive the tools on loan from PRVCA until the completion of the four-year program when they are given the set at no cost. A discount of about $2 000 is available to those who have completed 50% of the course work in approved training courses.
PRVCA reports that enrollment for the second year of its online basic technicians training program has increased from five to 17 students.
The RV courses, based on texts provided by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), are taught by industry consultant Gary Bunzer using Blackboard software that allows interaction between students and instructors and students to progress at their own pace during a semester. Three class sections are offered each semester.
The PRVCA board of directors recently approved a $63,000 subsidy to continue the program in 2005.
“We see our mission as recruiting new techs to the industry whether they come through the high school program or whether they are people looking for a new career path,” said Becky Lenington, PRVCA executive vice president. “With the online training, people can hold down their current job and take classes at their own speed at the same time.”