“In the fall, we had one or two students. We had to suspend the program. We continue to investigate to see if the program is viable,” Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Kathy Marsh said.
She said she and instructor Chris Lubiato met with industry partners to discover their opinions about the program.
“They were very insistent ACC needs to reinstate the program,” she said. “They suggested to break up the program into individual courses. The second thing we did is looked at the job market for automobile body repair.”
She said studies have suggested a 9.2 percent increase in jobs in the auto body field.
“Next, I pulled the graduate follow-up to see how many (former students) are working,” she said.
From 2011 to the present, there were six students in the program and only two or three have acquired jobs, she said. She said this may be because they weren’t in the program to have a career.
She said she and Lubiato visited Washtenaw, Oakland and Lansing community colleges because they have similar programs.
“Washtenaw is considered the premier auto body program,” Marsh said. “But they’re on the verge of closing the program because they’re not training the technicians to what the auto industry wants.”
She said Washtenaw’s focus is mainly on customization of cars.
“Oakland and Lansing have fairly good programs. But they have afternoon and evening programs. That might be the direction we need to go,” Marsh said.
She has asked Lubiato to revise the program.
She suggested breaking the program into different courses such as painting 101, painting 102 and so on. If the courses are done in this way, it will free up the instructor’s time in order to recruit more students, she said.
Lubiato has until the end of March to have the program revision completed, Marsh said.
Currently, the college has 14 applicants in the auto body program.
She also suggested officials look into a summer internship program. A few board members expressed their interest in an internship.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Vice Chair Tom Townsend said.
Chairman John Briggs said he likes the ideas proposed by Marsh and hopes the program continues to go in this direction.
We would like to thank The Alpena News for reprint permission.