CREF is developing an awareness initiative on careers in collision

When GM awarded the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) a $100,000 grant for 2022, the foundation put the funds to good use to expand its Career Opportunity Awareness Initiative, a project that aims to increase the number of students in collision repair who graduate with a marketable technique. skills by tackling the difficult dilemma from three specific angles: career awareness, career pathing, and career readiness.

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“General Motors is proud to support the Collision Repair Education Foundation,” said Terry Rhadigan, vice president of corporate giving at GM. “CREF’s work to increase awareness of career opportunities in the collision repair industry will help attract talent and connect the future workforce to the resources and training needed to launch a career in this field. .”

CREF began by highlighting the collision repair industry as a viable and valuable career for school counselors, educators, parents and other influencers at the American School Counselor Association (ASCA ) in July 2022, where CREF engaged in “meaningful conversations with advisors from all 50 states,” according to Amber Ritter, director of marketing and project management for CREF. Attendance at the event allowed CREF to directly educate over 4,000 school counselors on the multitude of career opportunities available in the collision industry…and also to indirectly promote this message to approximately 100,000 additional students that education professionals will encounter in the 2022-2023 school year alone. .

“We also got valuable insight into the challenges schools face in keeping these programs open, with many citing the biggest challenges as finding instructors and paying them well enough to retain them,” Ritter said. “In addition, we have established relationships with nonprofit organizations for other trades, and we plan to assess ways to collaborate more and better communicate the opportunities that exist in the skilled trades.

CREF addressed career pathing by using industry and student feedback to design and create career awareness banners that were distributed to 125 schools, serving to educate more than 5,000 students on the multitude of opportunities that exist in the collision repair industry.

Career readiness and job readiness videos were created to “provide schools with resources to recruit and equip students with the resources they need to become collision professionals,” Ritter said. Instead of creating five videos as planned, CREF developed a series of seven videos that were shot in an on-site store studio and in live store environments, using “former students now working in the industry who were willing to share their real-world experiences and stories in an informative and relevant way.

All aspects of the career opportunity outreach initiative have been so successful that CREF plans to continue to grow them through industry sponsorships, but the foundation continues to identify new ways to connect students to collision careers. CREF was recently approved for a third GM grant that will continue to fund its Support and Connect project.

“While there is a strong demand for talent in many segments of the collision industry, there are many barriers to entry,” Ritter said. “Two specific barriers are entry-level training and awareness of career opportunities. Programs lack funding to effectively teach their programs and ensure equipment is maintained and updated. They are also struggling to increase enrollment to meet industry demands for skilled help. Enrollment in collision programs has declined by 22% over the past five years, and while collision repair schools across the country are working very hard to alleviate these barriers, they cannot do it alone.

CREF’s Support and Connect project hopes to further support colliding students and schools by building on its referral grants program, and it seeks to connect by deepening the foundation’s relationships with school guidance counselors through the creation and dissemination of information materials to share with students and parents. .

Members of the industry interested in getting involved and supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can contact the organization for the many ways to get involved. Cash donations can be made on line.