It is common knowledge in the collision repair industry that there is a shortage of incoming technicians. Over the past few years, many articles, educational seminars and programs have been dedicated to this dilemma.
However, while many industry professionals have spoken about what shops can do to engage millennials and Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2009), rarely does this information come with feedback from the young people in these age groups who have decided to join the industry’s workforce.
Why did these young people pursue a career in the collision repair industry? What factors are most important when considering a company for which to work? What misperceptions have they encountered about the industry, and how can the industry’s image be improved to attract more of their peers?
These are some of the questions that several young industry professionals graciously answered for Autobody News. Their responses will help their more seasoned peers better understand their generation in order to attract and maintain new employees. Like any other group, no two individuals are the same, and their responses vary as much as their personalities. However, there are some underlying similarities and themes across their responses.
Most of those interviewed were interested in the industry from a young age. Travis Jeske, a UTI graduate who works for Caliber Collision, grew up in the automotive industry with a mechanic for a father, and he decided to pursue collision repair training so that he could open his own mechanic and body shop one day.
Alex Casillas-Mendoza, another UTI graduate and Caliber employee, shared “I have a passion for cars and have always been intrigued by the engineering, assembly and disassembly of any vehicle.”
Nineteen-year-old Meghan Grant worked in the garage with her dad when she was younger and developed a “passion for cars, trucks, bikes---you name it. Typical father-daughter stuff. My mom, on the other hand, was very artistic, so I was always painting and doing arts and crafts with her. I love being able to create things on my own, so I figured, why not mix the two? I started dabbling in the collision repair industry when I was around 13 and started seriously pursuing the field when I was 15.”