Tomorrow’s Techs

Skills Canada competitions are working to attract the next generation.

Since the CCIF Skills Program was established in 2008, the collision repair industry has been attracting the attention of students, parents and educators at Skills Canada competitions held across the country. The competitions offer industry a unique environment to showcase exciting career opportunities, a chance to interact with students, and the opportunity to bridge industry and education.

The events also support students and apprentices who have already selected collision repair as a career path, allowing them to display their talent and reach for provincial, national, or international recognition. Student competitors have the chance to meet professionals from different sectors of the industry and explore possible career paths.

This year, training opportunities were incorporated into a selection of the competitions. Competitors received advanced training they wouldn’t normally have access to, ensuring they left the event armed with new skills and knowledge. Several repairers also sent their apprentices to compete, providing a great way to support new talent, build passion for the industry and loyalty to the employer investing in them. Many of the technical committee members organizing the events are past competitors themselves, and can attest that the experience changed their lives and careers for the better.

Our industry held 10 competitions in 11 provinces in 2014, helping to move collision repair into the spotlight. During this year’s Skills Canada national competition, our industry enjoyed the largest square footage of any of the 45 skilled trades. Over 50 volunteers—including educators, collision repairers, suppliers, insurers, and OE manufacturers—helped set up, organize and judge the event. Industry has joined together to deliver quality events featuring the advanced technology and exciting career opportunities in collision repair like never before. Since the program was created, over 600,000 student spectators have attended the events.

Two new event locations were also introduced this year. In BC, car painting was hosted at Craftsman Collision in Abbotsford. In New Brunswick, the auto body and car painting competitions were held at CARSTAR Fredericton. In Ontario, the competition was expanded to two days to include training from Axalta, 3M, Duroair and Caruk & Associates. Students learned new skills on the latest and greatest equipment from some of industry’s top experts.

There are two new car painting competitions planned for 2015, set in BC and Alberta with thanks to Color Compass Corporation and the donation of a DuroPure paint booth. Thousands of students in these provinces will likely see car painting in person for the first time. This brings our 100 percent on-site events count to four.

In the New Year, I-CAR is set to offer free training to students in the auto body competition in Ontario, and to trainers at the national competition in Saskatchewan. As we add new events, national partners such as 3M, SATA, LKQ, Uni-Ram, AkzoNobel, Axalta, BASF, PPG, Sherwin-Williams and others, continue to provide the materials needed to deliver great events.

The CCIF Skills Program is only successful because we are working together as an industry. We are supporting students training for a collision repair career and effectively reinforcing that their choice was the right one. We are also reaching students who have never considered collision repair as an option, demonstrating that we have professional, high-tech, careers to offer.

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