As the technician shortage continues to plague the collision repair industry, the topic of attracting new blood to shops has become common at events and in facilities across the country.
However, once someone new is sold on collision repair, the next concern is ensuring they receive the proper training to successfully begin a career in the industry.
The Collision Career Institute (CCI) has developed a means of addressing this dilemma.
According to Chief Operations Officer Amber Ritter, “CCI is an apprenticeship program that consists of 3,000 on-the-job training hours plus 250 related supplemental knowledge hours. Our role is to help recruit, manage and track the skill sets of students while helping trainers offer the best knowledge by providing an outlined curriculum.
“In addition to facing the challenges of aging techs and a shortage of good employees, it’s important to acknowledge that this is also a difficult industry to train in. Shops are focused on KPIs, speed and cycle time, so it can be difficult to slow down enough to focus on the transfer of skills and knowledge. That can cause potential talent to slip through the cracks.”
Ritter explained that many folks interested in a collision repair career are uncertain about how to get started.
“Those who start training may get frustrated without a clear pathway,” she said. “They can’t see how they’ll actually become a painter or estimator while they’re sweeping floors or answering phones. CCI aims to give them a path and a structured way to get there.”
CCI’s apprenticeship program begins with an eight-week boot camp followed by 12 to 16 months of training and offers three tracks: painter, body tech and repair planner, each containing six specific modules. During boot camp, students get familiar with the track to ensure it’s a good fit by meeting with instructors weekly and engaging in I-CAR training, knowledge-based learning and skills-based assignments in the shops.
Ritter explained, “We work with the shop and trainers to provide a list of tasks the apprentice should be trained on first to create free space in the trainer’s day for the training and so the apprentices are a benefit to their trainer.”