Apprenticeships – Building Blocks (Part 2)

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Resources to prepare students for successful careers.

Taking up from where we left off last time, we look at some of the resources and tools that schools and technical colleges can use to attract good candidates to prepare them for successful careers in collision repair.

Tools and equipment

When looking at a particular school or program, ask about their records of improvement and investment. If nary a dollar has been spent in five years on autobody, then it’s difficult to imagine they are training to current shop needs. Often shops can volunteer suppliers who are eager to help teach new technologies at the college classes and can provide equipment or supplies.

Foreign students

Careful with your questions here because colleges are sensitive to these revenue questions. Some colleges have written policies on how many foreign nationals are accepted into autobody and collision repair courses. Others do not.

Because of the significant additional revenues (sometimes a 400 percent markup over domestic students) that international students bring to the college, some colleges are tempted to allow waiting lists for domestic students while canvassing for international students to register.

One college received 57 applications from international students while the class only had 40 spots total. Another college has 19 international students in a class of 38. Another college told us that they might take in one or two international students into the class. Unlikely.

Make sure you know what the policy is at the college on these issues, so you can be assured that your student will get in.


Shops want to be assured that the training in a fee-payer course is equal to both the apprenticeship curriculum and the additional add-ons that benefit the worker and the shop.

The goal for those taking the fee-payer course over apprenticeship is that employers do not have to send the worker back to take additional apprenticeship training that was to be covered in class already. Check with your college.

If the college demands equivalency testing for its fee-payer students so the student can move into the next level apprenticeship course, then you are in good shape. If the college allows students to pass simply because they attended or uses phrases like “give students an industry flavour” or advises “if you don’t like the fee-payer graduate’s level of competence then you can send them back to take level 1 apprenticeship,” then start running.

The intent for shops is not to add a year of training for a fee-payer student to match apprenticeship competence levels. The other challenge is when the student goes into Level 2 apprenticeship training at another college and that new college has to spend extra time and money to get that student up to a Level 2 entry “minimum knowledge” level.

Extra training

Colleges have a huge opportunity with a 600-hour fee-payer curriculum to add significant amounts of additional training over and above the normal 240-hour course structure. This is where the industry can excel with additional training offers, supplier presentations, co-op offerings and advanced technical training. It’s important your college welcomes industry support for this training delivery.

When you walk into that class, you are looking for students using pre and post-scanning equipment and accessing OEM websites, and not seeing them watching car crash videos.

Categories : Collision

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