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Madison College looks to refill autobody workforce positions

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - From fender benders to big crashes, body shops and collision repair technicians are needed for everyday repairs.

However, as more people retire or change careers, the auto and repair industry is struggling to maintain workers.

At Madison college’s collision repair program, one person’s trash is another’s education.

“I learn how to take the car apart and memorize where everything goes,” Jose Matute said. “I want to bring it back to brand new condition.”

Matute is a student in the two-year program. He’s learning the ins and outs of old donated vehicles as he trains for a job collision repair.

“Every now and then, someone will get into an accident, and you’ve got to take it to a trusted place that can fix it pretty quickly and then the car can be brand new again.”

Those trusted technicians could become harder to find. Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be about 69,000 openings in the auto service industry each year, across the United States.

“I think there’s just less people trying to do trade type work,” Tim Hoege, Collision Repair Program Dir. and Instructor Tim Hoege said.

The BLS said there are two reasons for that: technicians retiring and technicians transferring into jobs with a four-year degree. Something program director and instructor Tim Hoege sees firsthand.

“That’s across the board, diesel, auto, any of the trades we teach here, enrollment is down. Any of the trades you want to get into are very prosperous and looking for help,” Hoege said.

That’s why Matute is treasuring the opportunity to fill employment vacancies and keep passengers safe.

“I want people to trust that their car is going to be brand new,” Matute said. “A lot more people are needed to be experts at this.”

The most recent state data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there are a few thousand automotive body and repair employees across Wisconsin.

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