3M opens new training center for automotive technicians
A new state-of-the-art facility in St. Paul is hoping to address a significant need for auto repair shops.
Industry experts say finding and retaining qualified automotive technicians is becoming more and more challenging.
Now, 3M’s is hoping to help address the issue with its new Skills Development Center.
Jason Garfoot has been into paint since he was 16, and he’s now using his years of experience to help others.
“Being able to be that catalyst to help them learn quicker and get a little bit better has been very, very rewarding,” Garfoot, a senior application engineer at 3M, said.
At the new 3M Skills Development Center in St. Paul, Garfoot is part of the team that’s welcoming and training people who are relatively new to collision repair, offering courses in body repair and paint preparation and re-finish.
“Because of that shortage, we need to get people upskilled as quickly as possible,” Garfoot said.
Industry experts say more than a third of shop owners believe finding qualified techs is the biggest challenge they face. In fact, TechForce, a nonprofit that tracks technical education and careers, predicts a shortage of over 100,000 collision techs by 2026.
“If we don’t get the right people, we’re going to find ourselves at the tipping point,” said Jason Scharton, a senior manager of global expertise delivery for 3M Collision.
Scharton says ultimately, this could impact you the next time you need your car repaired.
“Without technicians and skilled technicians, consumers can be expected to have much longer wait times before they can get a vehicle in,” Scharton said.
At this development center, they put plenty of focus on hands-on training.
“For a long time, our industry was kind of looked at as a dirty, grimy job. That’s changed significantly over the years,” Garfoot said.
Garfoot adds the skills required today are much different than years ago.
“Cars are so technologically advanced now and the skill set is so perfected,” Garfoot said.
As the vehicles we drive change, the work to fix them up evolves, too.
“We’re very hopeful we can make an impact. When we look at those types of numbers, 100,000 technicians needed by 2026, the amount of people we can put through this facility is just a drop in the bucket but what we hope to do is inspire other companies,” Scharton said.
For more information on the training, click here.