The RV Technical Institute (RVTI) includes the Windham School District in its Authorized Learning Partner Program, a network of regional training partners approved to deliver the institute’s standardized training on a local and regional level.
The established partnership between the two groups would help address the ongoing technician shortage, causing challenges to RV dealerships across the country and introducing the service career path to many interested individuals, as per the News & Insights report of the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
The school district provides academic, career, and technical education, as well as life skill programs to eligible individuals in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDJC). It also has 86 campuses in TDJC facilities across the state, preparing students with the necessary knowledge and skills to reenter the workforce of their communities successfully.
“Increasing the number of trained and certified technicians will have an immediate impact on the RV industry’s ability to deliver an amazing experience for our millions of customers, getting them the service and repairs they need to keep them happy and on the road,” said Curt Hemmeler, executive director of RVTI.
Last year, Windham launched the very first RV technician training program at the Linda Woodman Campus, an all-women’s facility in Gatesville, Texas. Its first class had ten students enrolled in the program and graduated on July 1 last year with their RVTI Level 1 certification.
“The Windham School District is honored to partner with RVTI to provide our students a program where they will gain the knowledge and skills needed to obtain gainful employment and succeed in the industry,” said Windham School District Superintendent Kristina J. Hartman, Ed.S.
One of the program’s graduates was Monica Cardenas-Broadus, who now works at the Clear Creek RV dealership in Abilene, TX.
Monica Cardenas-Broadus, one of the program’s graduates currently working at Clear Creek RV dealership in Abilene, Texas, said it was a new program on the campus and something everyone else had already done. She thought it was a “cool class,” where she could learn something new and keep her busy.
“Personally, I loved it. My teacher was exceptionally awesome because he would tell us about RVs and relate it to automotives and home plumbing and electrical systems. He taught us the differences in each system and how to wire them. He also told the stories about them, which I loved because it helped me remember everything. The experience was amazing,” she said.
When recalling getting to work at Clear Creek RV, she initially planned to head back to Linda Woodman’s educational department upon release but was surprised when the dealership called her the day before.
“They called me down to education and said they had a job for me and that I would be starting December 1st at Clear Creek RV Center. I just started crying. I had been praying for that job!” Cardenas-Broadus said.
“I’m from this area and knew I would be coming back here,” she said. “I’ve been grateful for the class, just in general. It changed my whole life.”
Clear Creek RV’s service manager, Guy Morgan, also recognizes the impact RVTi’s training can have on its students, as well as the dealership they work for.
“The training that Monica received from RVTI’s curriculum is very acceptable, and having their program taught with the department of corrections is an outstanding idea. They’re learning a skill set that’s in dire need on so many different levels,” he said
Amid the technician shortage, Morgan emphasized the importance of the institute’s curriculum for dealerships looking for skilled employees.
“It’s been virtually impossible to find qualified RV technicians, and with this training that has been provided and the skill level coming from the program, it means they can start right away. I would hire their graduates in a heartbeat,” he said.
As the RV industry grows, he said he looks forward to seeing RVTI continue to facilitate training opportunities.
After achieving Level 1 certification, Monica plans to continue improving her skills, already looking to work on more certifications with the support of her dealership.
“I’m already starting the RV Technical Institute’s Level 2 course and working my way up. I have this chance, and I make good money. We’re family oriented, small, every Friday we cook for lunch, and it boosts our morale. We support each other. This is a phenomenal opportunity, and I’m so grateful I’ve been given this chance,” she said.
She plans to become a Level 4 Master Technician. She said she wants to become a service manager since she knows she will grow in her current career path. Her training and the industry’s opportunities have given her a “second chance.”