Enterprise Holdings today announced the launch of the Automotive Collision Engineering Pilot Program, powered by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation and Ranken Technical College. Designed to attract and develop entry-level talent to fill essential roles within the collision repair industry, and enhance retention and advancement among collision repair technicians, the program is piloting at four schools across the country – Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri, College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California, and Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas.
This groundbreaking program has been developed to address a paradigm shift in the transportation industry as it faces a major technician shortage. With nearly 80,000 new collision technicians needed between 2020 and 2024, according to the TechForce Foundation, demand is significantly outpacing a steadily declining supply of postsecondary collision technician entrants. Meanwhile, today’s rapid pace of vehicle innovation and connectivity is adding demands on technicians to have expertise in not only car repair, but also technology and engineering.
“Collision repairers are facing unprecedented challenges in growing their workforce to sustain their businesses. Meanwhile, the opportunity for future technicians to build successful, well-paying careers in this industry is enormous,” said Aaron Schulenburg, Executive Director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). “Collision engineering is an exciting, viable and rewarding career. By increasing awareness of these opportunities and training students to become meaningful entrants to the industry, the Automotive Collision Engineering Program is helping fill both the worker shortage and skills gap that exist. This program represents a strategic and collaborative response from an industry with a great deal to offer new members of the workforce, and a critical investment in the future of automotive repair.”
The program follows Ranken Technical College’s unique apprenticeship model, which prepares students for success by treating them as professionals from day one. Designed with auto collision industry needs in mind, the program encourages schools and industry to work together to facilitate lifelong learning for the future leaders of the collision industry.
Through this defined two-year apprenticeship model, students receive real-world education by working alongside industry experts while also earning their associate degree. Participating students from Ranken Technical College, College of Lake County, Contra Costa College and Texas State Technical College are matched with an employer partner. A portion of the student’s pay for work completed at the shop is subsidized by the program. Students rotate between eight weeks of classroom/lab experience and eight weeks of full-day work-based learning at a participating collision repair facility.
Several body shops (both multi-shop operators and independents) as well as the Ford Certified Collision Network are participating in the program and promoting the opportunity to host a student apprentice at their shops. Any shops that are interested in participating are encouraged to contact John Helterbrand, National Automotive Collision Engineering Program Director and Automotive Collision Repair Department Chair at Ranken Technical College.