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Who’s Really to Blame for Our Forgotten Work Ethic?

Who’s Really to Blame for Our Forgotten Work Ethic?

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I’m responding to the article “What’s Happened to Our Work Ethic?” written by Mr. Hamlin [Sept. 2001, pg. 60]. I felt compelled and obligated to elaborate upon what Mr. Hamlin wrote. As a secondary collision repair instructor, many things stood out in the article. One was the work ethic of our youth.

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We’re a society of material things. If you don’t think so, look at your monthly charge card statement. Our children are merely the product of their parents’ lifestyle. We parents want our children to have what we didn’t have. The problem is that we’re giving it to them without making them work for it. As parents, we’ve missed a golden opportunity to teach our children the value of money and work ethics. Instead, Mom and Dad are both working to pay for their lifestyle, while their children are left to develop their own morals and standards. Even worse, they expect the public schools to pick up the slack.

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We also allow our children to have “rights.” They have the right to choose their clothing, such as spike dog collars, baggy pants, tattoos, body piercing and provocative clothing. We give our children the right to choose to stay home and watch “The Rikki Lake Show” instead of going to school. Then we write a note for our child to get back in school with no consequences for his or her actions. Where’s the accountability? Students have the right to refuse drug testing in public school. They also have the right to an education, no matter what they did to violate someone else’s rights (including school personnel).

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Some collision instructors are forced to work with small budgets that were established in the 1970s and ’80s, while the materials necessary to instruct students have continued to skyrocket. Repair facilities look at vocational schools (the new term is career centers) as a place to get inexpensive help. As educators, we’re constantly fighting a society image of drunks and dope heads that pound out dents and spread bondo. We know that isn’t the truth. Collision repair educators are telling parents, students and counselors how great the opportunity for growth is throughout every area of the collision repair industry. It’s up to the collision industry to change its image, and the industry has been making progress along those lines. The quality of students now versus 10 years ago has changed. Our employment base across the country also has changed.

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You know we’re in trouble when the fast food industry is offering $10 an hour plus insurance and a retirement plan. If we’re going to get the cream of the crop from the career centers, we need to be offering more – for example, a tool incentive program for entry-level technicians. This doesn’t mean they should just be given the tools, but they can work for them by either making payments or through a specified term-of-service. A mentoring program must be established to create a bridge between school and work. If you don’t have time to develop one, there are good ones already out there. Support your local collision repair program by donating your time, talents and resources.

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On a final note, we’re all concerned about the industry we know and love. The question is, are we directing our children to follow in our footsteps or are we directing them on another path?

Greg Gambrel
Collision instructor and president of the Collision Repair Instructors Network (CRIN)
Indianapolis, Ind.

 

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