In a survey of 275 high school, college and technical school students between the ages of 15-45 who attended a Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) career fair during the 2018-2019 school year, the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Talent Pool Committee (TPC) gathered insight into students’ reasons for choosing to study collision repair and expectations as they enter the workforce.
One of the biggest takeaways from the survey is that the majority of students don’t plan to attend a four-year college, like previously thought.
“Of the high school students who responded, we saw a trend that goes against the industry narrative that students are going to four-year colleges instead of a technical or community college,” said Kyle Medeiros, account supervisor at Entegral powered by Enterprise. “Collectively, more students were going to attend a technical or community college or enter the workforce upon graduation.”
Just over half of the survey respondents have spoken to a counselor about securing a job in the industry upon graduation. In contrast to the current industry narrative that a student would expect to earn at least six figures annually in an entry-level position, 65 percent of respondents said they would expect to earn $50,000 or less upon entering the workforce.
Approximately 237 of the respondents identified themselves as male, 36 as female, and two chose not to say. Approximately 122 stated that their current education level was high school, 145 said college or a technical school, and eight had attended a four-year college. The vast majority of respondents were collision repair students.
The survey found that the top reason for choosing their current school program was a love of working on cars, followed by “opportunities for career advancement after employment.” However, “the number of job openings” and both entry-level and top technician pay were toward the bottom of the list, with 10 or fewer students selecting these reasons.
The respondents’ top factors in considering future employers were as follows:
- Work-life balance
- Potential for advancement
- Insurance benefits
- A retirement savings plan
- Tuition reimbursement
The survey is one way the TPC offers students a platform to voice their opinions to an industry they are interested in joining. That way, their future employers, who are currently facing a shortage of intelligent workers, can learn what the students value both in their education and future careers.
“Our committee believes that in order to attract a new generation of workers into the collision repair industry, we must first gain a deeper understanding of what the new generation values in a potential career,” said Dave Luehr, chair of CIC’s TPC. “Kyle Medeiros, CREF and other TPC volunteers have done a terrific job with this survey, and I believe the information obtained is a substantial starting point for our committee’s mission.”
The CIC Talent Pool Committee is a subsection of the CIC that is committed to working to create a collaborative environment across the collision industry to train, recruit, hire and retain future generations of collision industry employees into a modern and lucrative industry.