Collision Vision Podcast: Leading Forward to Solve the Technician Shortage with I-CAR

Dara Goroff and Arianna Sherlock of I-CAR spoke about how the organization is helping to address the industry's talent shortage.


Host Cole Strandberg was able to attend the 2024 National Meeting for I-CAR just a short time ago, and two presenters speaking The Collision Vision's language were a must-feature on the show. This episode’s guests are Dara Goroff, I-CAR’s vice president, Planning & Industry Talent Programming, and Arianna Sherlock, senior marketing director for I-CAR. The two of them talked about talent programming, Collision Careers, and how we are going to recruit and train the next generation of collision repair technicians, and that’s exactly what they talk about in this episode as well.

Episode Overview

The collision repair industry is experiencing a significant demand for skilled technicians. Goroff depicted an industry in growth mode, with an estimated 100,000 open positions expected to emerge in the next five years. This increase is driven by industry expansion and the retirement of seasoned professionals. Despite the promising salary prospects highlighted by sources like The Wall Street Journal, trade schools are finding it challenging to fill their collision programs. With only 15% of trade school graduates staying in the industry after 18 months, there is a clear gap that needs to be bridged.

I-CAR is actively addressing the talent crisis with a comprehensive talent programming initiative. Beginning with attraction, I-CAR is equipping educators and repairers with a top-tier curriculum that combines online education with practical experience. The I-CAR Academy program exemplifies this, offering a structured pathway for newcomers and ensuring consistency throughout the industry. This strategy not only fills the talent pipeline but also reduces the impact of technician poaching by standardizing the onboarding process.

Goroff stressed the importance of fostering a workplace culture that promotes retention. This includes building an employer brand, selecting and training mentors, and embracing diversity in age, personality and nationality. A positive work environment acts as a talent magnet, and I-CAR's emphasis on culture serves as a beacon for those seeking a long-term career.

Sherlock spoke about Collision Careers, an initiative that functions as the industry's megaphone for attracting new talent. Facing competition from other trades and the appeal of four-year universities, Collision Careers is a platform that highlights the diverse roles within collision repair. It's a collaborative effort that brings the industry together to market the wide array of opportunities to prospective candidates.

The marketing strategy for Collision Careers is forward-thinking, treating the industry as a product for potential technicians to discover and consider. Using digital channels such as web display ads, social media and YouTube, Collision Careers connects with the next generation in their most frequented spaces. The aim is to populate the top of the talent funnel and guide candidates on their journey into the industry.

Strandberg's conversation with Goroff and Sherlock explored the necessity for a collective industry effort to tackle the talent shortage. Sharing success stories, creating a positive culture, and casting a wide net are vital strategies. Through partnerships and collaboration, the industry can be fortified and its future sustainability ensured.

A particularly compelling aspect of the industry is the variety of career paths it offers. Starting as a technician can lead to positions in shop management, regional management, teaching and even ownership. Communicating these advancement opportunities is key to attracting and retaining talent.

The discussion concluded with a clear message: the future of collision repair depends on our ability to attract, train and retain talent. The initiatives and insights provided by Goroff and Sherlock from I-CAR are not merely strategies but a call to action for everyone in the industry. By uniting, sharing successes and fostering an environment that celebrates diversity and growth, a vibrant future for collision repair can be secured.

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