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Collision repair foundation works to educate, inspire fresh talent

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Collision Repair | Education
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The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) has launched a series of videos aimed at supporting those interested in entering the industry.

The videos, all less than four minutes long, give viewers a glimpse of what it’s like working in the field through interviews with technicians and estimators.

The promotional material, which is available on YouTube, is working to conjure up interest in an industry that has been vastly understaffed for decades and struggles to retain skilled workers.

A recent Techforce study found that 232,000 techs were needed in 2021 across automotive, diesel, and collision but schools were graduating only 42,000. In collision alone, the demand was 35,000 techs while only 4,500 graduated.

CREF is seeking to change that. In one segment, it highlighted five benefits of working at a collision repair facility. This includes:

    • Working in a constantly evolving space: “Cars are becoming more complex as technology continues to advance,” said an employee walking the viewer through a shop floor. “Technology aside, the way vehicles are repaired is always evolving.”
    • Room for career growth: Given the high demand for technicians, wages are competitive and growth opportunities are plentiful, CREF said.
    • A balanced lifestyle: Shops are normally open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on weekends, a CREF representative said, giving employees a nice work-life balance.
    • Longevity: “The collision industry is often called recession proof meaning that despite hardships in other areas of the economy, the collision industry remains stable,” said the video narrator. “When times are tough and budgets are tight, people will opt to repair their cars instead of getting a new one. And even if you’re the best driver in the world, accidents still happen and it keeps the collision industry constantly busy.”
    • Being part of a team: “In a collision shop there are various departments and roles that work closely together to get a vehicle back to pre-accident condition,” the narrator noted. “Working in the collision world means being part of something bigger, because not only are you helping a team repair the vehicle, you’re helping ensure customers leave with a safe vehicle that continues to protect them down the road.”

CREF is also offering advice on how aspiring techs can launch their careers, offering resumé tutorials, interviewing tips, and guidance on what to look for in a potential employer. 

Two of the videos share insights from a technician and estimator on what it’s like working in the space.

Ian Norris, an auto technician, said during one segment that shops try to give apprentices roles based on their interests, whether it’s prepping or detailing a car.

“You can move up to that spot and progress through the whole industry,” Norris said. “You definitely have to be open-minded and be able to take constructive criticism. If you’re willing to learn, the guys in the industry will teach you everything.”

As organizations and shops work to address the technician shortage, some are sharing tips on how to do so. Marc Brune, business development manager at Mentor Mentee, said last month stepping the talent gap requires ensuring support is offered throughout the training and hiring process from recruiting to long-term planning.

“The time to train and retain them has never been more critical,” Brune told forum attendees. “They want a career pathway and they need a business that’s going to show them the way and back it up.”

Ideally, he said, the trainee will be paired with a mentor who will accompany them throughout the journey to becoming a technician.

“Seventy percent of workplace initiatives will fail due to a lack of leadership commitment,” he said. “So don’t just talk the talk; walk and stay committed and fluid as your program continues to grow. Give your mentee a road map whether it’s for their career, tools, wage growth or ideally all three. If you can do that you’re already differentiating yourself from the pack and you’re really becoming a learning organization.”



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