The event will be held in Joliet, IL, at the Chicagoland Speedway hospitality village area next to the racetrack during Chicago’s NASCAR weekend, and students, instructors and administrators who participate in the career fair will also receive complimentary tickets to Friday evening’s races.
Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development for CREF, explains, “CREF and ASE are collaborating to bring together high school and college collision repair and auto service students from around the greater Midwest and beyond for this trade show and career fair, exclusively for them. We anticipate over 30 companies to participate who are looking to either meet students for employment consideration or showcase their products to the future professionals of the collision and auto service industries. Many would argue that the average age of repair technicians is over 40 years old, and one of the largest concerns within the collision and other technical industries is finding entry-level staff.”
Eckenrode continues, “Through this event, our goal is to help introduce industry employers and students. We have heard that, through these events where students interact with industry members, they find motivation to stay within their programs. Instructors may sit in front of their classrooms and ‘talk’ about the industry that is out there for them, but at this event, students get to meet the actual companies and experience the demand for their skills firsthand.”
CREF anticipates that around 1000 students will be in attendance due to the addition of automotive service students, and while the majority of these students are located in the Midwest region, CREF has already received interest from schools located in NC, PA and KS.
During the Cars, Careers and Celebrities event, students will get to meet with national and local repair facilities, insurance companies and dealerships, as well as tool, equipment and paint companies. Eckenrode hopes to see more independent repair facilities get involved, noting “Companies who are (or will be) in need of entry-level staff should attend this event in order to meet prospective future employees. There are sponsorship levels to meet every budget, and we would encourage all companies to join us to help welcome students during this event.”
Students will be required to RSVP for the event, allowing CREF and ASE to collect their resumes and contact information to share with event sponsors and potential employers. In an effort to create more value for students, Eckenrode says that this year “SkillsUSA will be administering a mock-interview tent so that students can practice their skills, and we are also working in interactive and hands-on activities for students to participate in.”
Companies interested in participating in CREF and ASE’s 3rd Annual Cars, Careers and Celebrities Expo should contact Eckenrode at 847-463-5244 or Brandon.Eckenrode@ed-foundation.org. Companies must express interest by August 5th to be included on event signage.