State News

Fayetteville Tech advances training in collision repair

Posted February 4, 2015

— Auto manufacturers, collision repair chains and insurance companies are helping a North Carolina community college launch a new training center promising good jobs.

Fayetteville Technical Community College opened the Collision Repair And Refinishing Technology Center on Wednesday. The training is designed to bring collision repair workers up to speed with an auto industry that increasingly relies on advanced materials and engineering.

The two-year curriculum prepares graduates with training in cosmetic repairs, aluminum and steel welding, and a new focus on insurance operations, and Fayetteville Tech is using the program to help veterans getting out of the service transition into the civilian workforce.

Ruben Gandara, a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division who was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, is among the 53 students learning auto repair skills at the center.

"The repair on this car was done incorrectly, and we're learning here how to do it correctly and quickly," Gandara said during a tour of the facility that followed a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Industry experts say there are job openings for 180,000 trained technicians across the country.

Gov. Pat McCrory called the center a model for other North Carolina communities. Educators must step up high-tech training, or North Carolina will lose those jobs to other states, he said.

"We can't live the past 20-years; we've got to anticipate the next 20 years," McCrory said. "Not only do we have new students who get these skills, but we have people as old as me who could be retrained and keep their jobs and even make more money in the long term."

Tuition for the collision repair program is $5,500, and graduates can expect to earn starting wages of about $40,000, with the potential to double that income, experts said.

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