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Every year, more than 21,500 collision repair technicians leave the industry, a trend that has increased steadily since 1995. An additional 31,000 technicians leave their current employers for another job within the industry. The average age of collision repair technicians is 38.7, compared with 35.5 in 1995, and more than a quarter of the existing workforce plan to either retire or change jobs in the next 12 months.
These numbers add up to a critical shortage for the collision industry. Even with 80,000 young people enrolled in collision repair classes, there will not be enough qualified graduates to meet growing labor demands. Collision repair training programs graduate only 10 to 15% of their students, which means that only 10,000 of those currently enrolled will achieve a certificate, associate degree, or other formal designation. This year alone, over half of the collision industry hiring needs will be unmet, leaving managers to hire first-time workers with minimal or no training.
For young men and women deciding their lives’ direction, the Collision Repair Education Foundation builds awareness of collision industry career opportunities within local schools and communities. Our goal is to offer scholarships, grants and additional educational support that will inspire young people to pursue career options in the collision industry. Our scholarships and grants also remove financial barriers to education; promote opportunities for a diverse workforce; and reward dedication, achievement and passion for their trade.
While we are a nationwide industry, we recognize that our business partners draw talent from local communities. Therefore, our goal is to ensure that there is a top-tier collision school in every market in America. These programs have the newest tools, equipment, and supplies to enhance the educational experience, giving students the necessary skills and experience with current repair technology taught in a realistic, practical environment. Collision repair businesses are then able to hire them as well-trained, productive, and efficient employees from day one on the job.
ITA schools teach from the gold-standard I-CAR Live curriculum. Schools that are NATEF-certified to ASE standards have been evaluated against automotive-industry-developed criteria based on curriculum, teacher training, and equipment. These schools also have the necessary real world tools and equipment to allow students to learn in a realistic, practical environment.
Of the 1,370 collision repair school programs in the United States, only 210 are members of the ITA and only 300 are NATEF certified—which falls far short of the standard our industry needs. Our goal is to shift the paradigm for quality collision repair training in this county.