Your Guide to Apprenticeships
Billy Vallely isn’t just coaching apprentices on proper welding techniques—he’s building the future of this industry.
“While I teach them, I give them my backstory and show them I had thirst for knowledge starting out,” he says.
As mentees flow through Master Collision, they’re encouraged to ask questions. They’re given the freedom to work on heavy repairs. They’re coached by veteran members of the industry. In the end, the apprentices come out the other side not just encouraged, but also inspired, to become more than just another line technician.
Truly, those new members of the collision repair industry are the result of Vallely’s mission statement:
“It’s my life’s mission to rebuild this industry from the ground up.”
Let that phrase “from the ground up” sink in for one second: In New York City, in the borough of Queens, the employee shortage failed to envelope this one remote collision repair facility—all thanks to a single apprenticeship program that empowered novices to become lifelong professionals.
Vallely can tell dozens of stories in this vein—but not enough to fix a nationwide dilemma that, year after year, continues to threaten the future of collision repair. At that ground level, which includes small programs like Vallely’s, not enough is being done. Master Collision is just one section in the blueprint that, once completed, will reveal the map for fixing the employee shortage.
Gregory McVicker, too, has made it his mission to help finish the blueprint. As the collision center manager for the Budd Baer Auto dealership, McVicker started his own employment marketplace, Talent Monger, four years ago, through which he’s helping shops outline the apprenticeship process from start to finish and create a pipeline of quality employees.
Apprenticeships are an intimidating venture—if you’re not prepared. But if you follow advice from people well versed in the practice, you’ll be ready to build a better future for your shop, for your industry.