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John Yoswick

John YoswickJohn Yoswick is a freelance automotive writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the collision industry since 1988. He is the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com).


He can be contacted at john@crashnetwork.com 

Wednesday, 08 June 2022 15:18

CIC Committees Tackle Ongoing Shortage of Collision Repair Technicians

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Virginia Oden of Oklahoma Career Tech said how entry-level technicians are treated when they enter the industry impacts whether they stay in the industry. Virginia Oden of Oklahoma Career Tech said how entry-level technicians are treated when they enter the industry impacts whether they stay in the industry.

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It’s not uncommon during discussions within the collision repair industry about the technician shortage for body shop representatives to point to what they see as the inadequate entry-level skills of students completing auto body training programs.

Educators and others speaking at this spring’s Collision Industry Conference (CIC), however, offered their own perspectives on the issue.

 

“We do not have a recruiting problem. We have a retention problem,” Virginia Oden, a trade and industrial education program specialist with Oklahoma Career Tech, said at the meeting held in Oklahoma City. “How we treat our employees is key. If you don’t provide them with opportunity, they will look elsewhere. They will tell you it’s because of the dollar. But people do not leave a job they love and where they feel appreciated. They leave because of management, period.”

 

She said she has seen technical education teachers “work hard every day to instill the passion they have for this industry into those students, and then when they get out into the industry, they are treated terribly. They may leave your shop and go down the street to the next shop. But if they’re treated terribly at that shop, they will leave the industry.

 

"They can get better work and better hours, with less hard labor, working at Amazon," Oden said. "So it’s important once we get them recruited and passionate about what we do, we’ve got to treat them with respect. It’s not about ‘kids today.’ It’s every single person who’s breathing. We all want to be treated with respect.”

 

Speaking from the floor at CIC, Dane Rounkles of American Honda said he once went to a collision shop in the Southeast to visit a student interning there while completing the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training program at a local school.

 

“He wasn’t there, and I asked, ‘Did he not show up?’” Rounkles said. “No, he was mowing the shop owner’s yard. When I spoke to the owner of the body shop about this, he said, ‘I had to pay my dues. They’ve got to pay theirs. As long as the school keeps sending people, I never have to mow my yard.’ My point: Do not assume these kids need to do what you and I did.”

 

Bud Center, chairman of the CIC Talent Pool and Education Committee, said too often he hears shops and schools pointing to the other as the cause of the technician shortage.

 

“There needs to be more conversation. People need to get on the same page,” Center said.

 

To that end, the discussion at CIC included panelists sharing ideas about ways to...


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