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Interview with Armands Umbrasko, leader and coordinator of the Young Car Mechanic

2024-01-09

Young Car Mechanic is an initiative that has permanently entered the calendar of automotive events. The competition is supported every year by leading suppliers and parts manufacturers. This year's edition marked the 7th time when we could find out who is the best young car mechanic and a bright uprising in the automotive market. Here is our interview with Armands Umbraško, leader and coordinator of the Young Car Mechanic project.
Rafał Pierzgała: – What is the most challenging aspect of organizing a competition for youth on a European scale?

Armands Umbraško: – The most important aspect is that we already know what is most challenging and we have tested solutions for those challenges. I am talking about the preparation of technical tasks, adaptation, and translation of tasks to all different languages, as well as the logistics of task materials between countries.

– Will the number of countries participating in the Young Car Mechanic competition increase in the future, or is the current number considered optimal?

– The Young Car Mechanic project and its organizer, Inter Cars are open for new countries to participate. In 2024 there will be no newcomers, but in 2025 we expect at least one country to join the competition. I would add that not only countries connected in Inter Cars Capital Group could be new participants.

– Besides assessing skills and knowledge sources, in your opinion as an organizer, what additional value does the Young Car Mechanic competition bring?

– If we look deeply, there is a long list of benefits to all involved parties. Students have a very good runway for the future and gain multicultural experience. Schools and teachers exchange the experience and know-how and have financial benefits. Partners of Young Car Mechanic share the knowledge and know-how for future specialists. More importantly, schools and teachers expand this knowledge to hundreds of students. The competition allows us, as Inter Cars, to achieve better and closer communication with our partners and suppliers, a feeling of belonging to one family, as well as closer communication with schools and having them as partners in work every day.

– Bosch, Continental, Elring, Febi, Mann-Filter, Meyle, Schaeffler, Shell, Varta, and ZF Aftermarket – the list of involved supporting brands for Young Car Mechanic is impressive. How important is the selection of partners for Young Car Mechanic in the context of the competition?

– The primary principle of the partner selection is each partner’s will to be involved in the project. All mentioned brands have been our partners for years. There is also an important factor that has to be taken into consideration. We cannot have too many supporting brands and too many tasks, due to participants and time limitations. So, we highly appreciate our previous cooperations and try hard to keep it for the future. Although, any new partners are welcome and we will find ways to cooperate.

– What are the opinions about Young Car Mechanic in different countries, both among participants and teachers?

– I have not heard any negative feedback. Of course, we have to consider different nuances in each country – such as the educational system, amount of schools, and involvement of state organizations. At the end of the day, we are able to create the valuable event for schools and students.

– In which of the countries participating in the Young Car Mechanic competition is the profession of a mechanic most popular among young people? Where has the passion for this profession been deepened successfully?

– It is very hard to answer. So, I would like to say: it’s the same in all of the countries. One aspect that  I can mention is that for sure is the attitude of my homeland – Latvia. The quality and the popularity of the car mechanic profession has risen significantly during the last 15 years, while contest in Latvia is organized.

– What role do soft skills play in professions like mechanics, and how does the Young Car Mechanic competition serve as an illustrative example in this regard?

– One could imagine that mechanics are people who chose to work with cars instead of communicating with other people, but the fact is that those guys we meet during different contest stages are really communicative and intelligent. So, a wide range of soft skills are involved in young mechanics life.

– How does the Young Car Mechanic competition compare to similar competitions in terms of organization, knowledge, prestige, and quality?

– There is not a long list to compare – we can mention competitions, such as World Skills and Euro Skills. If we have to compare, those are two different approaches in the basics. World Skills and Euro Skills reward only a technical execution and have a very high prestige and long history. Young Car Mechanic is much more than that. It is about the other values: relation-building, communication, very high standards of technical school involvement in projects, teaching, and learning.

– In your opinion, what are the most important educational values for young people conveyed through the Young Car Mechanic competition?

– For sure, we have to name diversity and practical experience.

– Is the Young Car Mechanic competition also a space for forming new connections or friendships among participants on an international scale?

– Absolutely. It is very well visible, how positive and open the contestants are to each other during the Young Car Mechanic competition.

– During the competition, there is also an exchange of experiences between students and educators in the field of mechanics and mechatronics. In which aspects can they most frequently complement each other with information?

– I believe it depends on where it is most needed, but there is a very common observation we see during the contests. The teacher is explaining something to a student and this communication turns into dialogue. There are always opinions on both sides which are open to discussions.

– Thank you for this valuable conversation.

– Thank you.

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