ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — SUNY Erie Community College's two-year Seaco automotive program expands as West Herr Automotive Group awaits several students to graduate and transform into full-time jobs.
A second-year student and worker of Seaco say it has always been his dream to be part of the auto industry, and this program helps him to enter several opportunities.
"It's different from obviously lecture learning because being able to do it hands-on you'll just learn it a lot quicker," says Samuel Lotempio. "Doing it with your hands, you'll get the muscle memory that you don't get in a lecture."
The program guarantees students a job after two years.
"I think it's great because it's a lot better than any internship," Lotempio says. "In an internship, you might get that job, but with this you already have that job and you're lined up. You don't have to worry when you graduate."
West Herr's Vice President of Fixed Operations, Jay Galligan, tells 7 News he has confidence in having the program expand along with students learning the success of being hands-on in the business.
"Adding another 36 technicians into our team and we got another 12 to 15 that are going to start in the fall, so this is a nice repeatable program that allows us to have long term success," Galligan says.
Galligan looks forward to transitioning the students into full-time employment at West Herr Automotive Group.
He says the full-time employment would also have access to health benefits, and of course, the salary rate will be more than expected.
"The average technician makes just over $56,000 a year annually. The average clinical technician makes over $62,000 annually," he says. "When you come out, you're making an average of $40,000 to $45,000 a year range."
The program instructor, Vincent Laverdi, says having West Herr the central hub for the students to learn and grow can be an investment for students' future.
"The nice thing about the co-op initiative they already are working at the dealership, so it's not like they have to get accumulated after the program," Laverdi says. "Because they've been working within the two years they've been with us."
Other students say this program holds benefits that future students should use to their advantage.
"Seeing stuff at the dealer and then coming here and learning about that stuff that we just touched at the dealer really helps the learning process," says James Brown, a student, and worker at Seaco.