Hometown Jobs: Wicked Diesel offers Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 1:51 PM EDT
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - For a couple years now, we’ve been telling you about the shortage of workers in all sectors of our economy, specifically in service and trades careers.

Now, your Hometown Station is diving deeper into programs geared at helping to fill those positions and how you can get involved in one.

“I was told that the average age of a trades worker in Virginia is 57 and that’s very concerning to me, so I think we need to bring that number down and this is a way that we can do it,” said Josh Weeks, owner of Wicked Diesel.

Wicked Diesel has been expanding since owner Josh Weeks started the business in 2014.

“Finding new employees is difficult,” said Weeks.

The solution is offering a youth registered apprenticeship program at his shop.

“They can get their feet wet here and get to make sure that this is what they want to do for their career and if they want to, they can grow here, if they decide they don’t want to be here or want to do this type of work, they can venture into other fields. They will get a trades workers card from the state saying that they’ve been through an apprenticeship program and are now certified to work. Even if you don’t stay in automotive, if you go through the program and get your trades workers card, it shows an employer that you’re ready to work, that you have the incentive to get out there and get it done,” said Weeks.

People in the program at Wicked Diesel don’t need to have any experience.

“Cleaning the floor, taking the trash out and then they go to work with a technician and they learn the basics on a vehicle, changing tires, oil, fuel filters, just basic maintenance and then they’ll be with a technician up until they feel confident enough to do that type of stuff on their own and then they learn everything to rebuilding an engine here, so they start out not knowing anything and then when they are finished with the apprentice program, they can do pretty much anything on the vehicle,” said Weeks.

Once you go through the program, Weeks said you can make $20 to $25 an hour or go even as high as $30 to $40 an hour.

He hopes this program will get more people interested a career in the automotive industry.

“There’s no better way to learn than to do it. I mean once you get that experience, if you’re 16 and come to work here, by the time you graduate, you already have two years of experience and that goes a long way,” said Weeks.

Helping teens like himself create a better future, right here in our hometowns.

“Definitely have to have a positive attitude, have to have good work ethic, and as long as you have the willingness to learn, we can take over from there and teach you and watch you grow,” said Weeks.

If you would like to learn more about working for Wicked Diesel, call the shop at (540)-587-3796 and to learn more about the apprenticeship program, click here.