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Harlingen High School's Auto Collision 2016 team is shown. Members won and placed at SkillsUSA Districts in February. (Provided by Harlingen Public Schools)

Valley Morning Star: Texas school district’s $300K grant earmarked for collision repair program

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Education | Repair Operations

Southern Texas collision repairers might have the answer to their skilled labor prayers after a nearly $300,000 upgrade to the Harlingen Public Schools’ auto collision repair program, according to a Valley Morning Star newspaper report Saturday.

The money came from the Texas Workforce Commission-administered Jobs and Education for Texans program, according to the Valley Star.

According to the Valley Star’s report, the program will finally have the capacity to better verse Harlingen High School students in panel repair — which might be a great fit for employers looking to put entry-level staff on cosmetic repair.

“We were able to do minor repairs but not full-body paneled repair to the extent of the rest of the market,” district Career and Technology Education Director Raul Alvarez told the newspaper.

An April Collision Industry Conference CREF presentation reported that some of the skills employers want out of fledgling techs include:

  • Prep for paint.
  • Dent repair.
  • Plastic repair.
  • Detailing work.
  • Basic business skills/personal skills.
  • Repairing and replacing bolted parts.

“We were doing the best that we could,” Alvarez said of the pre-grant auto body program, according to then report. “We were doing the best to sustain, but we were not up to the industry level.”

The grant will also fund a better paint booth, ventilation, a rotisserie lift, and a 30-iMac automotive computer lab with 3-D paint job modeling and some sort of “insurance” software (probably one of the estimating services), the Morning Star reported.

Another boon for students and employers, the newspaper reported: The grant will elevate the collision repair class to the point where students can earn dual credit at Texas State Technical College.

Some of the college’s Harlingen high school-age students won the state-level auto collision estimating program at SkillsUSA, and the Harlingen High School team cleaned up at Districts and had a strong showing at the state level. So the grant money in general looks like it’s going to students who’ll really put it to good use, and the dual-credit program looks like it’ll be great for both programs.

Citing BLS and O*Net statistics, TSTC reports that Texas is the No. 2 state for auto body industry employment, and the number of jobs is expected to rise 19 percent through 2022. Collision repair jobs pay $20.99 in the state, and the median wage for the industry is $43,000, according to TSTC, the BLS and O*Net.

More information:

“We’re not driving Model Ts anymore: Schools upgrade auto classes”

Harlingen, Texas, Valley Morning Star, Aug. 27, 2016

Texas State Technical College Auto Collision Technology program

Featured image: Harlingen High School’s Auto Collision Team is shown following some members’ Districts SkillsUSA awards in February. (Provided by Harlingen Public Schools)