BALTIMORE, MD, November 2, 2017 — The City of Baltimore’s Department of General Services (DGS)’s Fleet Management Division (Fleet Management) donated a vehicle engine and a sedan to the Westside Skill Center at Edmondson-Westside High School. The department has spent the last two years forging partnerships with the local automotive technical programs within the Baltimore City Public School system. This partnership now takes the form of vehicle donations, curriculum development, work study, and apprenticeship programs.
Mr. Charles Fleet, Assistant Instructor of the Westside Auto Class indicated that he will use the engine and vehicle for hands-on learning, by dismantling or disabling difference components and expecting the students to diagnose and repair them.
In 2016, Fleet Management developed a partnership with Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical (commonly referred to as Mervo), Forest Park, and Edmondson-Westside high schools. The Work Study program has a paid Internship ($11.50 starting rate) that can develop into an Apprenticeship program where participants are considered full-time Baltimore City Employees (benefits and starting salary of $32,875). Several employees of Fleet Management, including those at the Supervisor level, joined DGS Fleet through this partnership in the 1990s, and are a testament to its success.
Anton Wilson is one of those success stories, “Joining Fleet Management through the Work Study program allowed me to hone my skills and prepared me for the real world”. Wilson is now an Automotive Maintenance Supervisor within the Division.
Today, DGS hosts three full-time work-study mechanics, four part-time work-study mechanics, and one part-time work-study welder. Five of the students are from Mervo, while the remaining three are from the Westside Skill Center. Bob Gibson, Fleet Management’s Divisions Chief, recognized that if DGS offers students in this program the work-based learning they need, the students graduating from the program present an employment opportunity with Baltimore City.
In these programs, the students work alongside Fleet’s highly-trained automotive professionals learning a wide range of diagnostic, installation, maintenance, and repair skills. Through hands-on work and in-class training, students are exposed to a wide variety of vehicle types from sedans to fire trucks. According to Chichi Nyagah-Nash, Fleet Management’s Deputy Chief, “When I talk to the students about their experience here …they recognize and appreciate the opportunity to be working shoulder to shoulder with experienced technicians. This… provides [Fleet] the opportunity to expose them to the expectations of the workplace”.