Today, Tesla officially announced the Tesla START program, a 12-week training program aimed at providing students with the technical skills they need to join the ranks of the electric car manufacturer.
Students chosen for the program earn a wage from Tesla while attending classes (the company wouldn't comment on how much), and those who earn grades of 80 percent or higher are guaranteed a job at a Tesla service center after graduation.
"We're working with some of the best automotive education programs in the country to educate students on electric vehicle technology and our unique approach to customer service to prepare them for a career at Tesla," a company spokesperson told CNBC Make It. "Students graduate with a full-time job, certification and the skills necessary to succeed in the growing electric vehicle industry."
Even though Tesla receives over 500,000 job applications a year, they still face some unique hiring challenges. Since the electric car manufacturing process differs from traditional auto manufacturing, they must be innovative and proactive in the way they train and recruit employees.
Cindy Nicola, Tesla's head of global recruiting, tells CNBC Make It initiatives like Tesla START can help the company "connect with people early, get them excited about Tesla and invest in their development. That way they have the right skills and when they graduate, that they are actually a viable candidate for Tesla."
Tesla START is currently available through two community colleges — Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California — and will likely be expanding soon. CPCC and Rio Hondo both have reputations for successful apprenticeship initiatives with other companies. Siemens has an extensive workforce learning relationship with CPCC and Honda has an apprenticeship program with Rio Hondo.
"We are proud and excited at Central Piedmont that Tesla reached out us with the opportunity to be among their first community college partners," says Jeff Lowrance, Public Information Officer and Special Assistant to the President at CPCC."The automotive industry is moving towards electric systems and greater sustainability overall and we felt like this would put our students at the cutting edge."
In January, 13 students were selected to be a part of the inaugural class at CPCC based on grades, previous experience and an interview. These students will graduate on April 6th.
The program is financially supported by Tesla but will be executed by partner schools. Tesla provides the curriculum, the professor and compensation for students.
"This is a way for students to avoid a lot of college debt. It's a way to get specific training that will lead directly to a career that you can sustain a life on, raise a family on. It's good for everyone involved," says Lowrance.
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