Sunday, 31 July 2005 17:00

CAA sets up mentoring and apprenticeship partnership

Mentors@Work is once again searching for the best of the best mentors in the collision repair business. The national mentoring organization seeks nominations from the industry for its annual "Mentor Of The Year" award. This award will be presented to the individual who has shown exceptional skill teaching and training new technician talent for the collision repair industry. 

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In a related matter, California Autobody Association announced a new partnership with Mentors@Work to address the development of tomorrow's workforce. The program, entitled the "CAA Techs For Tomorrow" Apprentice-ship Program powered by Mentors@Work," will help CAA members maximize their effectiveness in attracting, training and retaining new talent for the collision repair industry.

Recognition at NACE

The award will be presented at this year's NACE during the Collision Industry Night of Achievement at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on November 1. Nomination forms may be requested from Mentors@Work by calling 888-225-6968 or via e-mail at info@mentorsatwork.com and are due by September 16.

"Over and over again shop managers tell me that attracting and training the workforce of tomorrow is their number one challenge. Mentors throughout the country will play a crucial role in developing the workforce of tomorrow for shops that empower them to do so," said Mark Claypool, president and CEO of Mentors@ at Work.

"For four and a half years we have been working closely with shops to address the skilled worker shortage issue, and many shop mentors have really impressed us, not only with their technical skills, but also with their people skills, teaching skills and dedication to this industry and their employers."

"This dedication and the above and beyond the normal call of duty efforts deserve everyone's appreciation for the positive impact these initiatives will have on our industry's long-term ability to fix cars right and in a timely manner," added Claypool.

"By presenting this Mentor Of The Year award, we are able to recognize those who are currently mentoring others and encourage shop owners and managers to consider building effective mentoring /apprenticeship programs within their shops. This, in turn, will help our industry meet its long-term skilled labor needs."

What judges look for

According to Claypool, the things the judges will be looking for when reviewing nominations are: What makes the nominee stand out as a trainer compared to other talented techs in the shop? What do apprentices who have been working with the nominee say about them? What communications skills and teaching skills does the nominee use to train others? What has the nominee done to teach new hires about the world of work beyond just the technical skills? and more.

"We want nominations about people who motivate others to learn, people who take every opportunity to help others learn, people who work in a way that makes others want to emulate them, and provide positive reinforcement when it is earned and constructive criticism when necessary," added Claypool.


"There are some fine techs in this industry who simply aren't equipped to teach others," added Claypool. "It takes a special set of talents, beyond skill and speed, to be a mentor. We, as an industry, must pay homage to these special people within our shops."

Mentors@Work provides free screening of mentor candidates on its home page at www.mentorsatwork.com .

Last year's Mentor of the Year

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The 2004 Mentor of the Year was J.C. Baccus, a 25-year veteran technician with Caliber Collision Centers in California. Baccus had mentored at least 30 new technicians in his career and had five apprentices working on his team when he was nominated. Two of his most recently trained apprentices are now on their own and are flagging 75+ hours per week of A-tech level work, and this after less than two years of training. These apprentices are welding qualified and several apprentices are on their heels.

CAA Techs for Tomorrow

CAA President Steve Sturken, owner of Sturken Auto Body in San Jose, California discussed the new CAA program: "We see this partnership with Mentors@Work as leading the charge to help solve what our members, and the Department of Labor, say is one of their greatest challenges.

"Our industry needs to be proactive in creating the workforce of tomorrow. We believe that the CAA "Techs For Tomorrow" Apprenticeship Program will help our members do just that."

"When it comes to workforce development," added Clay-pool, "shops in this industry have often ended up on the losing side, sometimes losing as many as 7 out of 10 of the new people they hire. Shops that follow this system, which meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) standards, will have a much greater chance of succeeding with the new people they hire."

"We look forward to working with the CAA and Mentors@Work to help make this partnership as strong as possible," said Michael W. Longeuay, regional director for the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. "The automotive industry is one of the high-growth fields that we are targeting at the DOL. Working together, we will help the CAA Apprenticeship Program become registered with the DOL, then we will offer all the benefits and support services that registered programs are entitled to."

CAA Executive Director David McClune and Claypool will be working closely to create a unique partnership that will benefit each CAA member starting today and into the future. "The indicators are out there now that tell us apprenticeship has to be part of the continued growth of employees in our industry,"explained McClune. "As a non-profit association, we are in a position to work closely with companies like Mentors@Work to organize and implement training through a number of government agencies that only non-profit groups can do."

For more information, go to www.calautobody.com or call the CAA at (916) 646-8111.


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