Business/industry and education partnerships—when done right—can reap tremendous benefits for the students, for the business, and for the entire community. We sat down with Mike Lehn, a champion for strengthening automotive business partnerships, to find out why investing in these partnerships is a win-win situation for everyone.

Tell us about your business/industry and what you do.?

Mike Lehn: As the Minnesota Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Industry Education Alliance1 Manager, I work with Minnesota high school programs that have partnered with Automotive Youth Educational Systems programs. I assist those programs and their students with the transition from education to career. ASE students proceed through qualification steps that include a strong academic emphasis, personal development, job shadowing and industry based certification assessments and other criteria.

Pictrure of Mike Lehn.
Mike Lehn, Minnesota Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Industry Education Alliance Manager

In your view, what role does CTE play in Minnesota’s workforce readiness?

Lehn: Career and Technical Education is the location where students in high school learn critical life skills which help them focus their passion towards a particular career. Students need to engage in high quality career education as early as middle school and that career education has to be continued throughout their high school experiences with the highest of quality of rigor and relevance.  This career instruction needs to be continuously reviewed by business and industry leaders to ensure that this education is up to date and that it aligns to today and tomorrow’s needs to support Minnesota’s economy.

Can you think of one technical skill that every person should know how to do?

Lehn: I have been working in the automotive industry for the past 40 years and am aware of a multitude of technical skills that technicians are required to know.  But the most critical in my mind is the ability to seek out valid and reliable information to correctly diagnose and repair vehicle problems.

Have you always been fascinated by vehicles? Do you like to drive them or fix them? Learn about careers in the transportation industry at CAREERwise Education, a Minnesota State Career and Education Source.

1 The ASE Industry Education Alliance is a group of organizations under the ASE umbrella providing a career resource from entry-level to retirement for automotive industry personnel and serves as a model for other industries. The ASE Industry Education Alliance consists of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES), and the Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC). For more information, visit the NATEF website at