By Mike Davey
Vaughan, Ontario — January 29, 2017 — Continuously advancing technology is making itself felt throughout the industry, but Canada’s trade colleges may be feeling the impact the most. A panel discussion at CCIF Vaughan looked into the challenges today’s collision repair trainers are facing.
The OEM repair procedures are constantly under revision, with frequent updates rolled out. Keeping up-to-date can certainly be challenging for shops, but the colleges have a slightly different problem. Paulo Santos of Centennial College put it into perspective. “The manufacturers keep changing the process. By the time we’ve set the budget, asked for funding and had the request approved, they changed the procedures again.”
Santos shared the panel with Mark Deroche, Chief Instructor, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT); Scott Kucharyshen, Program Head, Saskatchewan Polytechnic; Claude Viau, Enseignant en Carrosserie/Autobody Instructor, Centre d’études professionnelles Saint-Jérôme and Don MacKay, Autobody Instructor/Enseignant en Carrosserie, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). The panel discussion was led by Patrice Marcil of Axalta Coating Systems.
Marcil kicked off the discussion with an overview of some of the challenges affecting collision repair training before leading the panelists through a survey dealing with various questions about conditions and challenges to training delivery at their individual schools.
Budgets and overall costs ranked high on the list of concerns. Everyone in the repair industry knows that keeping up-to-date on equipment is expensive, but there are also high expenses involved with the purchase of consumables. The students must practice their techniques and to do this they must use up supplies. There’s really no getting around this. The instructors at CCIF indicated that their schools had partnered with various industry companies to lower costs, but the fact of the matter is that the programs are still very expensive compared to some other college programs.
“It’s one of the most expensive programs to run, and that’s because of the consumables,” said Santos.
The topic of budgets kept coming up throughout the discussion. Don MacKay of NBCC provided some comic relief before highlighting just how grim the situation may be. “They give us a budget every year, and I think they calculate it by … magic,” which drew a laugh from the crowd. No one laughed at what came next. “Do more with less, do more with less, do more with less,” said MacKay. “Currently, our budget is $5,000 less than it was in 1964.”
This is not an issue limited to one school. Deroche of BCIT followed MacKay’s comments by noting, “I guess magic is nationwide.”
The discussion covered a wide range of topics aside from funding, such as how to capture and hold students. Kucharyshen of Saskatchewan Polytechnic noted that his program used “fun, cool projects” to attract students. Deroche built on this statement, noting that, “We need to show them the fascinating technologies in the world of collision repair.”
Claude Viau of Centre d’études professionnelles Saint-Jérôme provided all of his answers in French, with the gist of his statements provided in English by Marcil. He noted that while getting industry involved in the educational process is important, school authorities need to understand that these programs are about training the workforce of tomorrow, not just getting students in seats and keeping them there until the end of the program.
Marcil concluded the panel discussion by noting that a survey of students would be conducted in the first quarter of 2017, with results presented at the next meeting of CCIF, taking place May 25 to 26 at Delta Fredericton in Fredericton, New Brunswick.