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Collision Engineering & Crash Champions partner to train tech apprentices

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The Collision Engineering Program (CEP) is now partnered with Crash Champions to sponsor eight students from College of Lake County (CLC) in Grayslake, Illinois.

Using the apprenticeship model founded by Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Ranken Technical College, CEP students will apprentice at local Crash Champions repair centers throughout their two-year program, working alongside and learning from professional mentors in the industry.

As part of CEP’s emphasis on collaboration between schools and industry, students gain real-world experience from the very beginning of their program with eight-week rotations between lab or classroom instruction and apprenticeships at local collision repair centers.

“The growing demand for highly-trained collision repair technicians is well documented,” Crash Champions founder and CEO Matt Ebert said. “That’s why we’re determined to invest in the next generation of skilled technicians and partnering with CEP is a creative opportunity to expand those pathways. We believe in the apprenticeship model, and this is just another step forward in our overall vision to invest in the future of the industry.”

With a growing network of more than 600 high-quality collision repair centers across the country, Crash Champions understands the need to invest in building a proven pipeline of talent and is committed to doing its part to address the demand, a joint news release from CEP and Crash Champions says.

This is the first school where Crash Champions has sponsored CEP students but both organizations say they’re eager to expand the partnership to other CEP schools nationwide.

“Schools don’t just need employers, we need partners,” College of Lake County Automotive Collision Repair Instructor Octavio Cavazos said. “It takes an industry to raise a technician, and it’s about so much more than just giving our students a place to work. It’s a long-term commitment to being a mentor and guiding new collision engineers throughout their journey.”

Crash Champions has committed to sponsor CLC students for the full two years of the program while they earn their associate degrees. As part of CEP’s “earn-while-you-learn” model, students will receive a rising hourly wage for their work with Crash Champions. The goal is that the apprenticeships turn into full-time jobs after graduation.

Repairer Driven News spoke to Crash Champions Operations Director Michael Kotas about the partnership. When asked what technicians are saying about training apprentices and how the students feel about working in shops, there’s been positive feedback.

“It has been a rewarding experience for both,” he said. “We all know that the talent gap and skilled technician shortage is one of the top issues facing the industry. We’re proud to be taking an innovative approach to addressing that challenge. Meanwhile, the students are thrilled to experience a live training environment as a supplement to their work at College of Lake County. There is no substitute for live apprenticeship training. We believe it is the most effective method to train the next generation of technicians.”

The first group of CLC students began their apprenticeships with Crash Champions in March, after completing their first eight weeks of classroom instruction that began in January. In addition to the College of Lake County, the Collision Engineering Program is active at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri.; Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California; Collin College in Allen, Texas; Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas; Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois; and Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Short-staffed collision repair centers are feeling the effects of the skills gap and talent shortage every day,” Enterprise Holdings Vice President Mary Mahoney said. “This new partnership with Crash Champions shows how we can make a real difference when the industry comes together. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to gain on-the-job training to prepare them for a career after graduation, a model that is critical to building a pipeline of qualified collision engineers for the future.”

Shops that are interested in learning more about CEP and would like to set up a meeting with CEP to talk about sponsoring apprentices should check out and fill out the web form found under the “Connect with Us” tab.


Featured image: Crash Champions apprentices at College of Lake County. (Provided by Enterprise Holdings)

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