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. 


The mission of the National Pilot Program is “to be the catalyst in the development of national ‘school-to-work’ collision educational programs at the post-secondary level by bringing the collision industry and colleges together in a collaborative partnership that not only increases the number of qualified technicians available to the industry but allows students to be mentored in a supportive environment that improves the image of technicians and the collision industry as a whole.”


With decades’ worth of collision repair industry experience, Rutter got involved with the program to communicate with the shops and the schools.


“We have to get the shops’ buy-in for mentoring the students, and then the colleges have to agree to implement the curriculum we’ve developed, which is ASE-accredited," she said. "There’s a lot of benefits for the schools, though. They receive a lot of support and an I-CAR curriculum, plus by the time the student finishes the program, they are Pro-Level 3 and able to obtain their welding certification as soon as they test.”


Four colleges are currently participating, though three will not have seated classes until January 2021 due to COVID-related concerns. Students at Ranken Tech and at the College of Lake County in Illinois are currently learning in the classroom and interviewing with local shops that meet the program’s criteria.


Mentoring shops must be I-CAR Gold Certified, use updated tools and equipment and have a mentor who can “take students under their wings,” Rutter said. The current mentor shops include several large MSOs as well as a handful of independent collision repair facilities.


“Once they qualify, the shop presents to the students and interviews them, so the student is hired before the first eight-week rotation ends," Rutter said. "In the next rotation, students will work in shops on the things they are now learning and report back to their instructors, who also make visits to the shop to check on their students’ progress.


“Working in the shop allows young students ease into the workplace, building work ethic which can be tough to learn. Collision repair requires learning so much that, even if it’s your passion, it’s still very stressful. This program allows the students to leave that stressful situation after eight weeks and return to school to discuss their experiences with their peers and instructors.”

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