On Feb. 2, ASA Northwest hosted a virtual presentation and discussion on the current state of collision education, featuring George Arrants, vice president of the ASE Education Foundation, and Beth Rutter, global director, industry and customer engagement, for Tradiebot Industries.
Arrants began his presentation by pointing out, “The pipeline containing the future workforce is collapsing… We don’t have a shortage of entry-level techs; we have a shortage of qualified applicants---young people are interested in the industry and applying for positions, but they don’t have the qualifications the shop needs. So, how do we address that?”
Crediting Kyle Holt of S/P2 for providing data, Arrants explored the number of S/P2 student users in 2019 compared to 2020, showing a significant drop in collision students but an increase in automotive service trainees.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on occupational projections for 2019 to 2029 predicts 13,600 job openings in collision repair during this time period, yet it only anticipates 4,400 new collision professionals entering the field.
More frightening, in a survey of collision graduates, ASE found 42% are no longer in the automotive or collision industries.
“Of the graduates surveyed, 18% are employed in the technical trades, so they are still working with their hands, just not with us,” Arrants said. “I hear a lot of shops say that their new tech screwed up on the first day, but did they really? Or did they just do things differently? Did you provide an experienced associate to mentor them on your organization’s processes and procedures? If not, they weren’t the one who messed up.”
Arrants next explored current trends in collision education. Over the past year, 17 ASE accredited programs went inactive, with another 26 potentially following suit over the next few months. From 2019 to 2020, 241 collision programs did not renew their training with S/P2 Collision.
The Mississippi Department of Education recently became the first state to mandate all collision programs be ASE-accredited.
Estimating there are nearly 1,000 collision programs in the U.S., “the industry and education speak different languages," Arrants said. "Colleges need to...