When you have knowledgeable and engaged collision repair representatives sharing information about the industry, Notte said it tends to make a difference. Volunteers are encouraged to plan functions where they can potentially have the youngest kids and their parents in attendance.
“We believe that to get to these collision repairers of the future, you have to get to their parents, and you have to get to the students at a very young age,” said Notte.
“Those parents and administrators who may not have listened to the message are all of a sudden listening to somebody who lives in their town, talking about his or her experience in the industry, and come to realize how acceptable it might be to have their kids work in the collision repair industry.
I-CAR’s industry partners are encouraged to attend the career nights in their local areas.
“We have OEMs that we work with through I-CAR’s sustaining partner program that are as passionate about helping with that technician crisis as we are,” said Notte.
I-CAR is approaching OEMs to possibly bring some “cool” vehicles to the career nights. Notte said the hope is that attendees will see the technology available, how the vehicles are constructed and begin to dream about how to repair them in a collision situation.
Another I-CAR committee goal is to have at least one member actively participate on a school advisory board at a high school or preferably middle school.
“That’s where you can affect the minds of those youngsters and the parents when you talk about collision repair, especially these days when cars are really cool,” said Notte.
Since many in this age group play video games and are keen on technology, he said they soon realize that with the technology in vehicles today, they can make a living doing what they enjoy.
Volunteers have found the school advisory boards to be extremely welcoming. Over the past few years, more parents and kids are looking at technical opportunities and increasingly requesting additional information about the collision repair field. Notte said this may be partially due to many kids now leaving college with a huge amount of debt and the lack of jobs available to reduce that debt.