The Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Ford Motor Company Fund have announced that the Parkland College Automotive Collision Repair Program in Champaign, Ill., has been selected as the seventh school to offer the industry-leading Collision Engineering Program (CEP). The program expansion is made possible through the cross-industry partnership between the two automotive leaders announced in January.
More than 110,000 new collision technicians are needed between 2022 and 2026, according to the TechForce Foundation, a national nonprofit. The CEP is a two-year apprenticeship model, founded by the Enterprise Holdings Foundation and Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, to attract and develop entry-level talent to fill essential roles within the industry. To provide the most up-to-date training available, learning is conducted both in classroom settings, as well as via apprenticeships in modern collision repair facilities, all while students earn their associate degree.
This unique model provides students the opportunity to earn an income while completing their training. For employers to participate in the program, sponsorship is required. In Champaign, Ill., seven local employers, including leading national MSOs, have already signed up to partner with CEP and provide apprenticeships to Parkland CEP students.
“Parkland College is re-engaging the collision repair community through a newly designed apprenticeship technician training program," Parkland College Department Chair for Applied Sciences and Technologies Jon Ross said. "Technician training today requires a different approach utilizing extensive resources from the industry. Our partnership with the Collision Engineering Program has been invaluable in connecting Parkland and our students to these industry resources. Barriers to student enrollment can be significantly reduced when industry and education work together. Parkland is committed to serving our employer partners by adapting to changing industry training needs and joining CEP’s network of training centers gives us the opportunity to collaborate with its network and grow the collision repair industry together.”
Parkland College currently has a Ford ASSET Program, a two-year program supporting the demand for entry-level service technicians with certifications from Ford. Additionally, its proximity to several collision repair facilities, MSOs and Ford’s manufacturing plant in Chicago makes Parkland College a great school for the Program. Expanding the CEP model to Parkland students offers a significant opportunity to revitalize collision repair across the region.
Support from the Ford Fund will offer Parkland CEP students access to scholarships and will cover Program startup costs, instructor training, school equipment such as lab materials and student-centered resources such as toolkits, uniforms, PPE, certifications, tuition assistance and assessments. Enrollment for the Parkland College Automotive Collision Repair Program is now open with classes beginning in fall 2023.
“The skills needed to obtain and retain jobs are evolving rapidly, and high-quality collision repair careers are in demand," Ford Motor Company Fund Economic Mobility Director Mike Schmidt said. "Ford Fund is proud to partner with organizations committed to removing roadblocks and prioritizing student resource needs to become tomorrow's collision repair professionals. The CEP program at Parkland College takes an exciting earn-as-you-learn approach to prepare students for career readiness. Together we're building a support system around student needs, from access to scholarship opportunities to modern collision engineering facilities and tools.”
In addition to Parkland College, the CEP model is offered at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Mo.; College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill.; Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif.; Collin College in Allen, Texas; Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas; and Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Neb.
“The addition of Parkland College is another important step in increasing access to quality collision engineering education for more students across the country,” Enterprise Holdings Vice President Mary Mahoney said. “We’re extremely grateful to be partnering with the Ford Motor Company through its philanthropic arm, the Ford Fund, to show how working together across our industry can make a meaningful difference in tackling the worker shortage and skills gap.”