In the United States, 60,000 automobile technician positions are currently unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers and that number continues to climb, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If this shortage of qualified workers continues, rising wages for in-demand automobile technicians may drive up the cost of car repair for American families.
After almost a year of planning and preparation, the Central Valley Auto Collision Repair Program opened its doors to students on January 9, 2006. This program begins with three weeks of employment preparation, followed by three weeks of "Introduction to Trade" which covers math and computer skills, plus safety in the workplace topics. As students further their education, they also receive employment prep instruction and work alongside journeyman auto repair technicians to learn the latest in modern vehicle auto body repair. This program is open to students 16 years of age and older.
Change image of auto body industry
The program also seeks to change the image of a career as an automotive technician to accurately reflect the high-tech demands and education needed and required in this highly advanced field.
"Cars today are high tech. Automobile technicians need math and computer skills along with training on modern, technology-rich cars in order to be prepared for jobs in today's auto repair shops. State Farm is proud to be a part of this quality program for Central Valley students," said John Velasquez, State Farm Estimatics Team Manager.
"Several students have job offers pending and will receive various mementos of recognition'" said Joe Velasquez, class instructor and local auto body shop owner. Students will also be recognized by local legislators. A car donated by State Farm, which will be repaired by students and then donated to a local non-profit organization, will be on display at graduation as well.
"This program is providing a real benefit to students and providing a quality career opportunity for some. Automobile technician jobs today are quality careers that require solid skills and comprehensive training." said Ted Ehresman, president of the California Autobody Association - Fresno Chapter.
While this program has been in the Central Valley since January, it was first established in 2001 at Swenson Arts and Technical High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through the combined efforts of the Philadelphia School District, the Auto Collision Repair Industry and State Farm. And most recently, at Morse High School in San Diego. (ABN, February 2005)
Central Valley Auto Collision Repair Program partners include: California Autobody Association - Fresno Chapter; Central Unified Adult School; State Farm; California State Auto Association (CSAA); Joe Velazquez, class instructor and owner of John's Body Shop; Brett Bicksler; Safety Compliance Company; Hertz; and 3M.
Participating auto body shops include North Fresno Collision Center; Caliber Collision; Foxwood Enterprises; George's Body & Paint; Travelers Body & Fender Work; Fresno Body Works; Fortney's Auto Body; Renewal; and ZJ's Autobody.