Autobody News Invites Your Input
It should come as no surprise to hear that across the country, collision repair shop owners and managers are facing a shared challenge: how and where to find new technicians.
With baby boomers retiring and vehicle repairs becoming more and more complex, there is a need to address this growing problem now more than ever.
Autobody News is embarking on a new approach to sharing some of the ideas to solve this problem by starting a monthly column dedicated to solving the tech shortage. We invite your input and look forward to hearing about the creative ways your businesses are finding, training and hiring technicians.
Whether it’s through a co-op program, apprenticeship, job-shadowing program, workplace training program, mentorships or other methods, it’s important to share ideas and start the conversation.
In Jonesboro, AR, Jeff Smith has seen this problem first-hand as a collision repair instructor at the Northeast Arkansas Career and Technical Center. The school serves 13 high schools in the area and has approximately 50--60 students per semester who take part in the collision repair program each year.
Over the course of his career, Smith has attempted to find work for his students at local body shops while they're still in high school so they can gain the experience needed to be paid above minimum wage once they graduate. However, he has found that the body shops don’t have the necessary liability insurance to cover someone under 18. As a result, he said he is losing a lot of passionate auto body students to local factory jobs simply because the wages are higher than what the auto body shops are offering.
With the overwhelming shortage of technicians in the collision repair industry, Smith said something must be done to reverse this trend. If the students had more experience before graduating, he said he is convinced they could earn a more competitive wage at the shops and have the ability to pursue their dreams and positively impact the current technician shortage.