Some central California auto body repair shops are taking steps to address the need for training facilities to teach the trade and have formed a partnership to start student training.
Ted Ehresman of Travelers Body & Fender Works in Fresno, CA, reached out to the Central Unified Adult School in Fresno to help get future techs trained.
“We are in great need of younger people coming into our industry,” Ehresman told Juanita Stevenson, reporting for ABC30.com.
The school, insurance companies, local auto body shops and the Fresno Regional Occupational Program have formed a partnership and developed the ROP program to train a new generation of auto body repair technicians.
Joe Velasquez owns a body shop and also teaches courses. He says there is no other program like it.
“It’s not a very long course; it’s about three and a half months,” Velasquez said. “We get your foot in the door. We get you into a body shop and you have to prove yourself from there.”
Along with the classroom work, students spend two weeks working at the Velasquez shop learning the basics. After that, they spend six weeks interning at a local auto body shop.
“And it’s a lot of stuff you don’t learn in the books, and with hands on you actually learn a lot,” student Reggie Felton said. Felton is hoping the training and the certificate he gets from this program will help him land a job.
“Most places you have to be certified, there are jobs out there but you’ve got to have the training for them,” he said.
Some students, like Damon Pearson, were hired before he finished the program.
“You have to have a clear mind and be focused on what you want to do and have the drive and will power,” Pearson said.
Damon has been at his job at Travelers Body Works for three years and now he is helping to train others.
“They take these young people under their wing, they train them and get close to them—it works well for both of us,” Pearson said.
The class offered through Central Unified Adult School costs $40 and includes the book. Students must be a high school junior to enroll in the program. The program also helps prepare students for employment with resume and interview techniques.