Programs Tackle Tech Shortage by Helping Young People Make Connections in Collision Repair

Organizations are working together to promote careers in collision repair and help potential future technicians develop the necessary skills, education and support.

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As the collision repair industry grapples with the same labor shortage as many other trades, organizations are working together to first promote it as a viable career option and then help potential future technicians develop the necessary skills, education and support.

According to District Administration, a provider of research-backed information on K-12 education, 37% of high school students do not have a plan after high school graduation. Lack of information on college and technical programs, overwhelming options, job market instability, and uncertainty about the future are leaving students and their parents overwhelmed.

In 2023, I-CAR and the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) launched the Collision Careers program, which, on its website, CollisionCareers.com, offers decision making tools, with valuable information and resources for students, parents and educators about the rewarding and lucrative careers available in the industry, as well as tools to help students find the one that fits their skills and interests.

The program recently introduced #collisiondecision, a hashtag to help students who are choosing a career in the industry amplify their decision on social media. The campaign was launched around May 1, also known as Decision Day, when many of their peers are announcing plans to attend college.

"Decision Day can be a stressful time for graduating high schoolers, especially those unsure of their next steps," said Dara Goroff, vice president of planning and industry talent programming at I-CAR. "The automotive collision repair industry offers a dynamic and rewarding career path that many should consider. We're committed to highlighting these opportunities and providing clear pathways for motivated individuals to enter this exciting field. By talking about the challenges or feelings students may have around Decision Day, we are aiming to turn what could feel like a negative experience into a positive one where they discover the best future for themselves."

Meanwhile, the TechForce Foundation and SkillsUSA announced a collaboration to introduce SkillsUSA members to the foundation’s career-building resources via TechForce, an online hub that aids students in navigating their career journey. This platform connects students with scholarships, events, apprenticeships and job opportunities.

In return, TechForce will promote SkillsUSA membership to its network, emphasizing opportunities for leadership, professional development, enhanced curriculum, industry networking and real-world experiences.

“This nonprofit-to-nonprofit collaboration showcases what can happen when two organizations work together for a common purpose,” said Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation. “Both organizations are committed to the outcome of a skilled, passionate workforce, so ensuring our communications channels cross-pollinate ensures our students, and industry, win. With TechForce having over $4 million in scholarships to award this year alone, and SkillsUSA being active in nearly 5,000 schools and over 21,000 classrooms nationwide, it’s a natural alliance that supercharges results for the next generation of skilled technicians.”

“SkillsUSA is the No. 1 workforce development organization dedicated to students,” added Chelle Travis, executive director of SkillsUSA. “Our organization stands ready to meet the growing need of connecting business and industry with skilled professionals. SkillsUSA’s vision is to produce the most highly skilled workforce in the world, providing every member the opportunity for career success. With partners like TechForce beside us, it is a true win-win for everyone -- students and the American economy alike.”

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