I-CAR has launched the first digital advertising campaign for its Collision Careers platform aimed at attracting Gen Z students and their parents to the industry.
A series of 15-second videos, themed “Bolt Ahead with Collision Careers” shows the career opportunities in collision repair amid a technician shortage estimated to reach 110,000 by the end of 2027, according to TechForce Foundation.
TechForce’s latest Technician Supply & Demand report found that student graduations in all automotive segments increased in 2022 — more than 5% in collision repair. However, the difference compared to 2013 was still 45% lower, according to TechForce.
A 2022 survey commissioned by the Collision Engineering Program (CEP) also found a lack of awareness about collision repair careers.
“We just want them to feel inspired,” said Arianna Sherlock, I-CAR marketing senior director. “We want them to feel like, ‘Hey, I want to learn more because this is something amazing.’ Or, ‘This is something really cool that I could potentially do or be a part of.'”
The videos highlight professional roles in collision repair including structural and non-structural technicians, refinish technicians, estimators, and electric diagnostics technicians (ADAS technicians).
“Instead of trying to explain what the collision industry is, who the players are, and how much you can make — that we tend to all believe is true and valuable — we’ve tried to just take a really bite-sized video and hook people with a message,” Sherlock said. “If they have an interest or a talent, if they like to be a problem solver, or they fancy themselves an artist — we want them to explore this career. There might be something there for them. Once they take that initial action, we can deliver them to the Collision Careers platform and the broader industry.”
The first wave of the campaign will run primarily on YouTube in several markets including Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. I-CAR said those areas were chosen because of their high need for talent, proximity to strong collision repair school programs and shops, and ability to reach the target demographic.
In a survey released late last year by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and I-CAR, technicians reported they’re excited about new vehicle technology, think that it’s fun, and agree that it will help progress their careers.
Career satisfaction, compensation, and career feedback were the focus areas of the survey. Key topics were experience, workload, compensation, satisfaction, emerging technology, network support, training, and tools.
Elizabeth Gonzales, I-CAR marketing senior manager, noted that working in collision repair isn’t a dirty job — it isn’t like your grandfather’s job. It’s made up of advanced technology, and much more.
“For those who aren’t sure of what they want to do, for the market who are now starting to realize that they don’t want that debt from college, that survey has really given the justification of tremendous opportunity,” she said. “Coupled with this campaign we’re really trying to inspire them that there is this path, there is a place for them. That is professional, that does give them a path to success, that does lead them to endless possibilities.”
Sherlock said I-CAR hopes the ads will also catch the attention of school educators and counselors who could point students to collision repair.
“We’re trying to really meet people where they are with the message,” she said. “The industry should not be seeing it through the campaign. We are targeting candidates.”
The campaign is meant to be similar to college advertising — get students interested and have a place where they can sign up for more information that will take them through the decision-making process, Sherlock said.
“This campaign lays the foundation for Collision Careers to begin pursuing promotional partnerships across the industry to help us more broadly reach the public with consistent messaging that positions the collision repair industry as the trade of choice,” said Dara Goroff, planning and industry talent programming vice president, in a news release.
I-CAR’s Collision Careers plans to expand its campaign later this year with opportunities for “like-minded talent-concerned organizations and marketing leaders” across the industry to partner on content and develop co-op advertising campaigns.
Featured image: A structural technician works in a shop. (Photo provided by I-CAR)