UPDATE: Enterprise pilot to grow collision techs using Ranken format mixing school, shop time

Enterprise Holdings announced Monday a brand new pilot program according to Ranken Technical College’s hybrid school-and-shop collision vocational education model.

The Automotive Collision Engineering Pilot Program will run two years and debut in the Saint Louis, Mo.-based Ranken; Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif.; Texas State Technical College in Waco, Tex.; and College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill.

Enterprise said both smaller collision businesses, multi-shop operators and the Ford Certified Collision Network are participating for that portion of the program happening in actual auto body shops. Other repairers are welcome to join in; Enterprise said they should contact National Automotive Collision Engineering program director and Ranken collision Chairman John Helterbrand.

The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation will fund the two-year pilot and pay for a digital advertising campaign promoting auto body repair jobs to the nation’s students, parents and counselors.

“We're proud to be spearheading the Automotive Collision Engineering Program through this innovative pilot. As the world's largest rental car provider as well as an leader in the industry in mobility and technology, there exists a huge stake in the health from the automotive repair industry and therefore are dedicated to doing our part to purchase its success,” Enterprise Holdings insurance replacement division Vice President Mary Mahoney said in a statement. “We're encouraging other industry leaders to become listed on us in addressing the industry shortage and shaping the way forward for automotive repair.”

The initiative has support from a few of the biggest names in the collision ecosystem; Enterprise described an advisory board containing American Family, Caliber, Chief, Ford, GEICO, Gerber, the Hermanek Group, I-CAR, Professional Parts Group, Progressive, Repairify, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and repair King.

“Collision repairers are facing unprecedented challenges in growing their workforce to sustain their businesses. Meanwhile, the chance for future technicians to build successful, well-paying careers within this market is enormous,” Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS executive director and program advisory board member, said inside a statement. “Collision engineering is definitely an exciting, viable and rewarding career. By increasing understanding of these opportunities and training students being meaningful entrants to the industry, the Automotive Collision Engineering Program helps fill both worker shortage and skills gap which exist. This program represents a strategic and collaborative response from a business having a good deal to provide new members of the workforce, and a critical investment in the future of automotive repair.”

The Ranken method

Under the Ranken apprenticeship system, a student spends 8 weeks at the school and so the next 8 weeks within an actual body shop, and continues to alternate in this way for what has historically been a four- or five-semester program.

“This program is all about changing the method of educating students for any career in collision repair,” Helterbrand said in a statement Monday. “Unlike traditional classroom-based models, our program introduces students to the industry in early stages – providing opportunities to gain practical collision engineering experience, and ultimately better preparing new technicians to enter the current workforce.”

Helterbrand told an open SCRS board meeting last year his college had found employers received students with issues like few soft skills, weak worth ethics and a insufficient hands-on ability on a single area. Ranken also learned that students felt unprepared.

Schools experienced outdated curriculum and delivery methods, plus some failed to provide the practice students needed, he said then.

Trade school graduates would leave a company, or perhaps a school's program after a while, according to Helterbrand. When Ranken asked about the departures, it found that students – now coming from a generation that wishes compare unique car features in their workplace – often didn't understand the culture or became lost in the system, he said. Some employers and employees had even driven good students from the program using the “short-sighted” notion that education can't teach everything, he said.

Under the Ranken format, students are “gathering shop culture,” according to Helterbrand’s description last summer. They might work on small tasks and “felt like they were part of something,” he said then. And while the shop helps the students with hands-on skills, the vo-tech school handles the actual education — it doesn’t want the shop inadvertently teaching the student something incorrect, he explained then.

Enterprise said the model, which has existed for a few years, “easily adapted” to issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. “A digital learning management system has likewise been developed and rolled out to another participating schools to facilitate virtual learning,” Enterprise wrote in an news release.

Based on the Enterprise news release, students will be paid for their time in the store. Enterprise Holdings said it would subsidize part of the student’s wages.

Helterbrand last summer said this program also provided the scholars with tools so they’re not “digging into people's toolboxes” and gave them an ALLDATA subscription to emphasise process. He explained this could continue.

“Included in the program, the students are supplied with tools to be used during their internships,” he said in a statement. “The scholars will be presented the various tools after graduation and employment using their sponsors. Students attending this program get an ALLDATA Collision subscription up to no more the program. ALLDATA Collision provides our industry with the OEM collision information all manufacturers. The program is the same format as Ranken.”