The Collision Engineering Program has received a $700,000 grant from ECMC Foundation to support the growth and expansion of the industry-leading program’s efforts. With foundational support provided by the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the program is 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.
With nearly 100,000 new entrant collision technicians needed between 2021 and 2025, according to the TechForce Foundation, the Collision Engineering Program addresses the ongoing industry technician shortage and skills gap. Collision repair businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in growing and sustaining their workforce as baby boomers retire and demand outpaces a declining supply of postsecondary collision technician entrants. At the same time, automotive technology is rapidly changing, requiring skill sets to evolve for those who repair vehicles.
The program replicates Ranken Technical College’s unique two-year apprenticeship model at schools across the United States, preparing students for success by treating them as professionals from day one. Students gain real-world education working alongside industry experts while also earning their associate degree. Currently, the program is in its second year of a two-year pilot 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.
“We’re excited about the innovative, five-semester associate degree Collision Engineering Program at Ranken Technical College which employs an eight-week rotation between on-campus coursework and paid work-based learning,” shared Jennifer Zeisler, Career Readiness Senior Program Director, ECMC Foundation. “We’re proud to support a program that seeks to address the need for a skilled and diverse collision technician workforce and believe this unique institution-led, earn-and-learn model will serve as a valuable blueprint for institutions looking to implement work-based learning programs.”
The grant from ECMC Foundation will support phase two of the Collision Engineering Program. Phase one focused on piloting the program at four schools across the country. Phase two will build upon the efforts of the pilot program, establishing at least four additional partner colleges over the next three years. ECMC Foundation’s contribution will provide startup costs to launch the program at partner colleges, enable the program to hire additional staff and provide continued support for existing partner colleges.
“We’re tremendously proud that our model has been recognized as the gold standard for connecting hands-on industry experience with education,” said Don Pohl, President of Ranken Technical College. “The Collision Engineering Program helps partnering institutions adjust to the rapid pace of vehicle innovation and connectivity and brings meaningful training to students. This support from ECMC Foundation will allow the program to expand its reach and impact nationwide.”
Since the pilot launched earlier this year, the Collision Engineering Program has also received contributions from Chief Collision Technology and Mitchell International. Chief Collision Technology, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-quality collision repair products and services, is providing a MULTIMIG Aluminum Welder—valued at $12,000—to the College of Lake County. The machine, used widely across the repair industry, will provide students with in-depth knowledge and experience working with real-world equipment.
Mitchell International, an Enlyte company and leading technology and information provider for the P&C claims and collision repair industries, is offering its full suite of repair solutions to each of the four participating schools. The in-kind donation—valued at $150,000—includes Mitchell Cloud Estimating with Integrated Repair Procedures, Mitchell TechAdvisor and its OEM-licensed repair data, and the Mitchell Diagnostics platform for scanning and calibration. These solutions are designed to help technicians efficiently diagnose, estimate and repair collision-damaged vehicles, improving customer and carrier satisfaction. With Mitchell’s innovative technology and the Collision Engineering Program’s advanced education, graduates entering the workforce are well-equipped to properly and safely repair today’s complex automobiles.
“As the world’s largest car rental provider, we have a responsibility to invest in the future of the automotive repair industry—a future that’s at stake due to the ongoing skills and labor shortage,” said Mary Mahoney, Vice President, Replacement and Leisure Division at Enterprise Holdings. “With our partners’ support, we’re working to increase awareness of this career path and build successful and skilled collision repair technicians through the Collision Engineering Program. It’s so encouraging to see how the industry is collaborating to make a meaningful impact on the future of the automotive repair workforce and industry. We hope others will continue to step forward and join us in this endeavor.”