By Mike Davey
Hamilton, Ontario -- May 23, 2017 -- Finding talent may be an ongoing challenge in the collision repair industry, but many shops are stepping up and taking on apprentices according to the results of our latest survey.
Collision Repair magazine runs fresh surveys every week. The next survey also ties into apprenticeship and the search for new talent, as it looks at an aging workforce. You can participate in this survey here.
The first question in the apprenticeship survey simply asked if repairers currently had one or more apprentices working in the shop. The majority of survey respondents (79 percent) indicated that they did, while the remaining 21 percent did not.
The surveyed shop owners who did not currently employ any apprentices were then asked if they had any apprentices in the shop in the last five years. The majority of those respondents (67 percent) did not, but a solid number (33 percent) had employed apprentices in that time period.
Collision Repair magazine’s surveys usually consist of just a few multiple choice questions. We went off that model with the survey on apprenticeship, and asked readers a couple of questions where the responses were wide open. Those who currently employ apprentices were asked why they chose to do so. Those who currently do not employ apprentices were also asked why. We can’t sum up these answers in chart form, but they’re definitely illuminating. Below are some of the answers from shop owners explaining why they employ apprentices. As always, this text appears as it was written, with only minimal editing from us.
“We want to ensure we have technicians for the future. Our apprentices usually are employees who start off as detailers so we know their work ethic. If they show an interest in this industry, and they have already been familiarized with the repair process then we know that investing in their future will be beneficial for both them and our business.”
“Cultivate my own technicians. Each year I reach out to the two colleges in our area and ask if they have any students who would like to come to our facility for their two co-op portion of their training. They work at no cost but it is a great opportunity to see what kind of employee they will be. I have currently four apprentices working for us that all working toward their Red Seal. Two of these will be ready to write their Red Seal exam within 18 months.”
“Remember when you were young? Anything is possible and they learn the right way for our shop.”
“To gain a good employee, hopefully. We all learned from a journeyman as apprentices, so paying it forward. To help people get into the trade.”
One respondent simply put “They are our future.” We really can’t argue with that.
This does raise the question of why other repairers aren’t hiring apprentices. The text answers to this question are illuminating as well. The vast majority of those answers came down to one simple fact: there were no apprentices available to hire in the area. One respondent, however, chose to provide a little more insight:
“All local trade schools are extinct and with only one offering for autobody at this province's only city, youth are being manipulated by the bigger players … NO apprentices are returning to their home town communities for employment.”
Our next survey focuses on the age of the current workforce. You can participate in that survey at this link and make sure to watch for results next Wednesday on collisionrepairmag.com!