In the 1980s, the collision industry was facing its first critical shortage of qualified and well-trained entry-level employees. The country’s technical education system was no longer able to produce enough high-caliber graduates to meet industry needs. In response, industry partners created the Collision Repair Education Foundation in 1991. The Foundation’s charge was to develop, promote, and distribute a curriculum program designed to teach the skills most needed by entry-level employees of collision repair shops. Today, nearly two-thirds of the 1,370 collision repair schools in the United States use the I-CAR Live or Advance-Tech curriculum.
But creating and providing a curriculum to meet collision industry needs was only part of the solution to the problem. Secondary and post-secondary schools nationwide have experienced severe funding cuts from national, state, and local sources. As a result, schools are unable to provide adequate funding for their collision training programs, despite full class enrollment. In addition, collision repair students traditionally have not been offered the same scholarship and financial aid support as their counterparts in other post-secondary educational institutions.
In 2008, the Collision Repair Education Foundation transformed itself into a traditional philanthropic organization, partnering with industry donors to fill the funding gap that hinders the collision industry. In our first year, we provided more than $1.7 million in grants for collision education. The Education Foundation is committed to continuing to award substantial annual support, both to students and to collision training programs. We are also committed to promoting the collision industry as an excellent career in one of the last real “hands-on” trades in existence—a time-honored trade that offers challenging work requiring skill and aptitude in a field offering growth and opportunity.