Tuesday, 12 February 2019 21:51

WI Collision Repair Program Director Discusses Lack of Industry Workers, Students

Written by Josh Spreiter, Channel 3000


The next time you need to get some work done on the family minivan, you might notice more of a wait to get it into the shop. That's because we're seeing a growing shortage of technicians entering the field.


Experts say it could take you more than six months to get body work done on your car because there is such a lack of workers.


The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says averages of 76,000 mechanics are needed this year to replace those retiring or leaving the industry and to fill some 46,000 projected new openings.


The auto collision repair and refinishing program at Madison College in Madison, WI, is seeing a high demand for students. The program has 16 students in the first year and only one in the second. Compare that to just 17 years ago when it would see around 40 students in its first year and 18 in its second.


Madison College's program director, Tim Hoege, said he wants people to know they can be very successful without attending a four-year school.


“You can come for a one- or two-year program. You're out there working in the industry and making money right away, and you can only build on your income from there," Hoege explained.


Hoege said there are numerous job opportunities in this industry, including technicians, estimators, paint reps, parts suppliers and sales reps for the products they use.


Hoege said it's hard for the industry when high schools and parents push their kids to a four-year college. They can do shorter programs and be just as successful, if not more.


"We take it, and we make it all beautiful again and put it back to pre-accident condition. It's like the accident never happened,” Hoege added. “So it's very rewarding in that aspect, but I think a lot of people just don't know we're here."


Even with so much more technology in the body shops these days, there is still a great need for hands-on technicians. You may think that new technology makes it easier, but Hoege said it actually makes an already complicated process even more so.


Experts say you're pretty much guaranteed to get a job in the auto body industry right after school. Hoege said some technicians in the Madison area are making well over $100,000 a year.


We thank Channel 3000 for reprint permission.