Tuesday, 03 June 2014 00:00

Richland Community College in Decatur, IL, to Offer Collision Repair Tech Program

Starting in the fall of 2014, Richland Community College in Decatur, IL, will be offering degree programs in two growing industry fields, namely Collision Repair Technology and Diesel Medium/ Heavy Truck Technology.

“Technology is changing, jobs are changing, and there is a huge, huge need for workers with advanced skills and certifications in these areas,” said Jack Adwell, dean of business and technology at Richland. “People going into these industries can be pretty assured that it is not going to be that hard to find a job.”

 

For the local area, the projected employment growth for automotive body repairers from 2012 to 2022 is 13.27 percent, just above the national projection of 13 percent, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment growth for diesel technicians and mechanics is projected to be 8.7 percent for the area and 9 percent nationally. Adwell said average industry growth is about 6 percent. The growing demand comes, in part, from the aging work force in both fields as the majority of laborers are in their low-to-mid 50s, he added.

“In five to 10 years, they are looking to lose a massive part of the work force because of retirement, and that could leave a huge gap in our employment,” he said. The courses in both programs are designed to follow the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation standards, and Adwell expects both programs to receive NATEF accreditation by spring of 2015.

Both will be located in the Workforce Development Institute, a 45,000 square-foot building that will house the college’s auto body, auto technology, diesel technology, and building trades programs, along with a fitness and wellness center.

The institute is a part of a $16-million project that includes building additions and renovations. Construction began in April 2013, and Adwell said they hope to start moving program equipment into the building in early June 2014.

Robyn McCoy, executive director of Workforce Investment Solutions, expects the area to see job growth in the warehousing industry and transportation industry logistics sector.

The center served about 30,000 job seekers in 2013 and spent more than $600,000 in wage reimbursements during the last two years. As an incentive for employers, the center can reimburse up to 50 percent of an employee’s wage for up to 13 weeks.

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