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Training in Collision Repair is about to get an overhaul at Okanagan College.
The College is in the final approval process with the province’s Industry Training Authority to offer a much more complex program for students, right from the start.
The new Collision Repair Technician Certificate program comes in response to pressures being exerted on the industry, said John Haller, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship for Okanagan College.
“Right now employers are reluctant to hire entry level employees because they find it difficult to release them later for the two additional five-week apprenticeship training sessions,” he said.
“As a result some employers try to attract workers away from other shops, look outside the province, or even the country, to get workers with the skill level they need.”
The College puzzled over the problem, and quickly realized its students needed to arrive at the shop with that higher skill set – particularly in the key areas of electronics, diagnostics and advanced sectioning technology.
The result is that now all three levels of apprenticeship training take place over a continuous 41-week period.
“We call it front-loading,” Haller said. “The aim is to train-up the students at this entry level so that they’re better equipped to deal with the current job demands.”
In addition to making the Collision Repair Technician Certificate more streamlined, the College also decided to add more depth to the curriculum.
Jeff Francis is the chair of the Collision Repair Department. He’s worked for years with the highly detailed I-CAR training modules originally developed in the U.S. Now he’s incorporated significant elements of the I-CAR curriculum into the College’s program, all while maintaining the Industry Training Authority’s requirements for Red Seal certification.
“This is a far more complex program,” Francis said. “We have a great tool here in the I-CAR modules, but up until now we’ve only been scratching the surface of what’s possible.”
The newly minted Certificate means students will also be eligible for points leading to I-CAR certification.
“This means even more employment flexibility for our students,” Francis said. “With this kind of training, it will make our students really stand out.”
The new program is slated to start Sept. 6, with a limited enrolment of 18 students. For more information on how to register, contact Okanagan College at 250-862-5457 or toll free at 1-877-755-2266 ext. 5457.
Okanagan College’s Collision Repair Department has been training students for successful careers in the industry for decades. In 2011, the College celebrated its 20-year-old partnership with Toyota Technical College in Japan, which continues to send dozens of its best students for training in Kelowna each year.