Thursday, 08 October 2020 17:41

Beth Rutter Shares Sneak Peek of Pilot Program

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Beth Rutter recently spoke about the Pilot Program at the St. Louis I-CAR Committee’s September virtual meeting.  Beth Rutter recently spoke about the Pilot Program at the St. Louis I-CAR Committee’s September virtual meeting. 


Four guest speakers attended the St. Louis I-CAR Committee’s September virtual meeting, including collision repair industry professional Beth Rutter, who spoke about the Pilot Program. Rutter graciously agreed to share some additional information with Autobody News.

The Pilot Program originated three years ago at Ranken Tech, where Collision Director John Helterbrand designed an apprenticeship program to ensure collision students are prepared to successfully enter their career after graduation.


Students work with mentors at local shops, obtaining hands-on repair experience in conjunction with classroom education, as tasks begin with the most mundane and progressively advance along with the student’s knowledge and skills.


“Students rotate between eight weeks in the classroom, followed by eight weeks at a shop where they implement the techniques they just learned,” Rutter explained.


After safety, process is the second most important thing that schools teach collision repair students.


“An educator without a textbook can’t do much, but if you can take it home, you can do a lot of work on that," Helterbrand said. "We [must] maintain a high level of educator for students. Our program is a little harder in the sense that we make the students focus on themselves, but we make them lifelong learners. So, it’s all about taking care of the student.”


A currently-silent industry partner recognized the value of Ranken’s Pilot Program and proposed expanding it nationally.


“We need more than just a curriculum to address the issue of our fractured industry,” Rutter emphasized. “Recognizing that entry-level techs need a basic level of knowledge in order to be trainable and hirable, we decided to start with the colleges.


"Some graduates can be hired right out of school because they’ve obtained the knowledge they need to start in a shop; others aren’t even close---collision repair curriculum isn’t consistent across all colleges, and we are working to address that.”

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