We Hire EVIT: Tempe Dodge
Posted on 09/12/2017
EVIT alum, Leo Gonzalez, is one of the many students hired by East Valley automotive dealers like Tempe Dodge.

For the past decade, the EVIT Automotive Technologies program has served as a workforce pipeline to Tempe Dodge dealership. During that time, service director Mike Purtle estimates that he has hired about 20 EVIT students.

“They’re pretty knowledgeable when they come here. They’ve learned a lot in the classroom and a lot about equipment,” Purtle said. “Here, they learn about the real world.”

Automotive Technologies is one of more than 40 programs offered at the East Valley Institute of Technology, a public school that provides advanced career training tuition-free to high school students who reside in 10 East Valley school districts. Tuition-based programs for adults are also offered with financial aid available for those who qualify.

The ultimate goal for every EVIT program is to place students in a job related to their training, college or the military. Twenty EVIT programs offer dual enrollment college credit through area community colleges, and nearly every program prepares students to test for industry certifications and licenses that show employers they are ready to be hired.


EVIT alum Leo Gonzales working on a car in Tempe, AZ

​The Automotive program offers college credit through Mesa Community College and Gateway Community College and prepares students to earn multiple Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications.

“It’s great for students to have those,” Purtle said of the ASE certifications, adding that being ASE-certified can also lead to greater earning potential.

EVIT students start out making $10 an hour at Tempe Dodge, but within two to four years they can become a technician earning $22 an hour. And, he added, through the flat-rate payment system, seasoned automotive technicians at auto dealerships can earn $100,000 or more annually.

Purtle has worked at Tempe Dodge for 29 years. He started out as a technician. “The beauty of a career like this, there’s no stopping you,” he said. “It’s up to you how far you go.”

Eighteen-year-old Leo Gonzalez hopes to go far in his automotive career. Leo graduated from Primavera online charter school and completed the EVIT Automotive program in May – even as he was already working in the industry.

“I love working here,” Leo said of his job at Tempe Dodge. “It gets me involved in working with my hands, in learning things. And they gave me the opportunity to start at 16.”

Aside from skills and certifications, when Purtle hires someone to work at Tempe Dodge, he looks for good character.  “Honesty is important. If they mess up, they need to be able to tell me. I can’t solve the problem if they lie to me,” he said. “And they need to be respectful. That’s what I get from EVIT students.”

Automotive is one of many industries that need skilled employees – the type of workforce that EVIT produces.

“For a long time, kids were all told to go to college, be lawyers and doctors. Now we have a glut of lawyers and doctors,” Purtle said. “The trades need to make a comeback. It’s a good life.”

EVIT students have a 98 percent high school graduation rate, 2 out of 3 go on to college, and 92 percent are in college, the military or jobs within one year of completing their career training.

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It is the policy of the East Valley Institute of Technology District #401 to provide all persons with equal employment and education opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, age or disability. District grievance procedures will be followed for compliance with Title IX and Section 504 requirements. The compliance officer is the EVIT Superintendent.

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