CREF Night Highlights Industry Shortage
LAS VEGAS, Nov. 7, 2019—The Collision Repair Education Foundation reception on the first day of the 2019 SEMA Show kicked off with a speech from the student of the year award winner, Samantha Welch.
Welch is a student at GST BOCES Coopers Education Center in Painted Post, N.Y. She plans to graduate in June 2020, go to college and one day own her own collision repair shop. Welch placed second in the SkillsUSA state competition in New York and placed fifth at the national SkillsUSA competition.
According to CREF, there is an average of five women in every collision repair program.
Brian McDonnell, Welch's instructor at GST BOCES Coopers Education Center, won the instructor of the year award. The school has won over $150,000 in support from the Collision Repair Education Foundation.
Four schools were recognized at the event and received awards of $20,000 or more. The schools included Lorenzo Walker Technical College in Naples, Fla., Eden Area ROP in Hayward, Calif., Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Calif., and El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.
Eden Area ROP has been involved in SkillsUSA, placing first in the state competition in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Lorenzo Walker Technical College has a 90 percent placement rate in the industry and was seeking donations to enter the aluminum repair space. El Camino College has one of the few woman instructors in the country. And, Norwalk High School is only given a budget of $4,000 a year for the collision repair program so the instructor finds ways to supplement the budget.
The night ended with a special presentation with Steve Wodrich, collision repair and refinishing instructor for City College in Billings, Mont. Wodrich shared his experience as the only remaining collision repair program in the state. He's been creative in his endeavors to raise awareness and money for the program, even volunteering to run for the cause and for donations.