Guest Editorial: Seeing A Future In Collision -

Guest Editorial: Seeing A Future In Collision

Hal Conte is senior studying collision repair at Bucks County Technical High School in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cars and the collision industry. He's also passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a journalist covering the automotive industry.

Cars have been around for 130 years, and over that time, many have crashed and needed a doctor – or, an automotive physician. That job falls to those of us working in collision repair.

I’m a senior studying collision repair at Bucks County Technical High School in Pennsylvania. I’ve noticed that many freshmen in my school aren’t interested in studying collision. And this isn’t just the opinion of a few kids – many shop owners and collision industry figures have also noticed a decline in interest.

Some Theories

After talking to some other students my age, I came up with some of my own theories about this phenomenon.

Last decade, the percentage of young people without licenses grew. In other words, less young people than ever are driving cars, let alone owning them. In the past, many kids got their start in collision by doing hobby work on their own cars. Today, cars are too expensive. I look for cars on eBay all the time, and it’s hard to find any for less than $5,000 – unless you want a salvage title! More kids get rides with their parents, and there are more reasons to delay car ownership, such as using Uber or car-sharing services like Zipcar or public transportation.

Many freshmen visit our class throughout the year, and what I hear most is that they “like the shop, but the work seems dirty.” When I asked my teacher about this, he said the industry was “finally emerging from the Dark Ages, when you might imagine seeing a technician smoking a cigarette without protective equipment painting a car with solvent-based paint – if they were in a booth at all. Today, everything is much cleaner.” Advances in refinishes, respirators and paint suits have made shops cleaner places to work.

The Media

My generation is very influenced by what they see in the media. Collision is not very prominent on TV compared to other professions. Even though some shows, such as Monster Garage, involve car repair, they present an unrealistically glamorous view of the industry that compares unfavorably to the nitty-gritty reality. People think they can start airbrushing right away, and once they realize they’ll spend most of their time sanding, they walk away.

Young people are increasingly told they must get a four-year college degree. This rejection of manual labor is coupled with constant and overhyped news about job loss in manufacturing and repair, particularly in the auto industry. However, perceptions about the industry aren’t always backed up by reality. According to the Department of Labor, 365,500 new jobs are expected in the next decade in the “Installation, Maintenance and Repair” (which includes collision) category, while only 107,500 are expected in “Art, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media.”

The Future

When I look at the local newspaper’s classified section, I see at least three job openings in the collision industry every day. Collision jobs are noticeably unaffected by dips in the economy – after all, people don’t stop getting in accidents! As a lifelong car enthusiast, I plan to go to my local community college after graduating this spring and likely get a job in a body shop while attending classes. Eventually, I hope to write about cars. Let’s hope in the future, young people will still see the benefits of choosing collision repair … and that I’ll have plenty to write about.

Courtesy BodyShop Business.

You May Also Like

Guess The Car Stirs Up Some Conflict

To win, you need to enter the contest and be randomly selected. Don’t miss your chance at the next amazing set of prizes.

We're cooking up some challenges with the latest Guess The Car Puzzle! Thanks to everyone who contributed spice to the recipe! We did give a clue in the original post by asking for the TYPE of car, not a particular vehicle model.

What TYPE of car is this (not a brand or model)?

What to Expect at AAPEX 2024

The 2024 AAPEX Show will take place November 5-7 in Las Vegas.

Do Technicians Need Tips?

Asking for a tip would not go over well with your future customers.

Guess The Tool Doesn’t Stump Players This Week

Discover the lucky winners of our latest contest and get a chance to test your skills with our engaging puzzles.

April Crossword Puzzle Winners Were Lights Out

Down or across, the clues are clear. You have to complete the puzzle to have a chance at Crossword glory.

Other Posts
Auto Body Repair: What is the Appropriate Body Filler?

A look at the different types of body filler, their characteristics and proper prep tips.

NACAT Opens Registration for 50th Anniversary Conference

Taking place in Indianapolis, IN, this milestone event promises to be a celebration of automotive education excellence and innovation.

Congratulations To Guess The Car Winners

To win, you need to enter the contest and be randomly selected. Don’t miss your chance!

March Madness Hits Pop Quiz Entries

Not a winner this time? This week’s contest is a new Guess The Car. Enter for free each week.