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Breaking Barriers at Craftsman Collision

Craftsman Collision, a leading Canadian auto body repair company, is taking proactive steps to address the decline in technicians within the industry. Recognizing the underrepresentation of women in this field, Craftsman Collision is determined to break barriers and encourage more diversity in auto body repair.

Barb Murphy, Operations and Business Development Manager at Craftsman Collision emphasizes the company’s commitment to increasing the number of technicians in their shops through their apprentice program while particularly focusing on attracting more women to the industry. Murphy highlights the importance of removing obstacles in what has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated domain.

Apprentice Program Perks – Free Tuition and Toolkit

Craftsman Collision’s innovative apprenticeship program collaborates with educational institutions such as the BCIT, VCC and Okanagan College. This program supports all genders throughout their educational journey and seamlessly transitions them into employment within the company. Each student enrolled in the program receives a comprehensive toolkit valued at $5,000 and has their tuition fees covered for a year of schooling. Upon completion of their education, the apprentices are offered employment by Craftsman Collision. Following twelve months of continuous employment as a journeyperson and successful completion of exams, the toolkit becomes the apprentices’ permanent possession.

Rising Together: Supporting Women in Autobody Trades

Accommodation and commute costs, things that can bar anyone from accessing opportunities, are often managed by Craftsman as well. “They just want to see people succeed,” said Stephanie Appel, a Red Seal refinisher at Craftsman’s central Kelowna location. She added the company supported her in other avenues of her life, financing her trips to provincial and national car-painting competitions and further personal development opportunities.

As for her personal experience, Appel said the perception of auto body shops as daunting spaces made for men wasn’t true for her. “I got along with the painters so well, and I’ve had no complaints about being a woman in the shop. I want to try, I want to learn, and they’re very accepting.”

Louise Trenholm, a refinish technician in West Kelowna, echoes the sentiment. “Everyone starts somewhere, so don’t be afraid of failing,” she said. Both women advise anyone starting to research the kinds of trade industries they might be interested in and reach out to local colleges’ Gateway programs.

Craftsman’s Innovative Apprentice Program

Craftsman Collision actively seeks passionate individuals to join their apprenticeship program. Murphy encourages interested candidates, particularly women, to explore opportunities through the company’s website. Moreover, Okanagan College is organizing a Jill Of All Trades event on May 15 at the Kelowna campus, providing a platform for individuals to learn more about careers in trades, including auto body repair.

Craftsman Collision’s apprentice program is an example of inclusivity and opportunity, paving the way for a more diverse and vibrant future in the auto body repair industry.

by Rebecca Willson, Kelowna Capital News