PPG Automotive Refinish announced that, on Feb. 4, it, along with other collision industry leaders, will celebrate the dedication of a new, state-of-the-art, 25,000-square-foot collision center that houses a groundbreaking associate degree program in collision repair and refinishing technology on the Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) campus in Fayetteville, N.C.
The first of its kind in the nation, the FTCC program is a direct response to the critical shortage of qualified collision repair technicians. Auto manufacturers are using highly advanced technology in their operations, and the collision industry has not been able to keep up with the demand for technicians. It is estimated that more than 180,000 repair-related positions will need to be filled in the next few years. The FTCC program has been designed to help fill the gap.
The new collision center and program represent a shift – fully supported by PPG – that brings the repair industry in line with the innovative processes, advanced materials and sophisticated computer engineering automotive manufacturers are using. Students are instructed by repair industry professionals and work in a real-world environment with newer cars and new equipment not yet found in many collision centers in North America. This includes PPG’s waterborne systems and spray equipment.
FTCC’s two-year program offers training in a number of collision repair disciplines. The first class began in August 2014. A new group of students starts a two-year career path every eight weeks. Students may follow one of three tracks: estimator, nonstructural technician or refinish technician. Course offerings include nonstructural cosmetic repairs, aluminum and steel welding techniques, and cutting-edge refinish processes along with repair estimating, shop operations, insurance procedures and advanced computer applications. The last step of the program comprises a hands-on final exam sequence in the new collision center administered by professional collision repair managers. Students have ongoing opportunities to interact with industry leaders. Those completing the program will earn an associate degree in applied science as well as more than a dozen I-CAR, PPG and other industry certifications. Graduates will be job-ready, with most already holding offers before the end of their training.
“This is a remarkably robust program and a genuine opportunity for students interested in a career in the collision repair industry,” said Bryan Robinson, PPG North American manager, national accounts. “We at PPG knew from the program’s inception how important it could be to the industry. We were happy to participate and provide our waterborne products because they’re a big part of the future of refinish work. The program is going to benefit the entire industry and take the quality of work and service to a higher level. We’re very proud to be part of it.”
Located next to Fort Bragg, FTCC is an educational partner with the military facility and the 60,000 personnel on base. Veterans or National Guard members make up 60 percent of FTCC’s student body. These individuals will now have a new career avenue in their transition to civilian life.
To ensure that the program curriculum meets current and future industry requirements, FTCC has teamed up with national industry leaders including PPG, I-CAR and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education. Industry representatives help guide the program and keep it relevant.