European garage associations warn about the lack of qualified labor in bodywork repair

Bodywork and paint shops are not attractive for young Europeans who are thinking about their professional future. All around the continent different national garage associations, in France, England, or Spain, are warning: there is a lack of professionals specialized in body repair and the sector is not capable of appealing to young people who are currently considering what to study.

All of this, in addition to being in a moment of fast market and technological changes, is pushing repair businessmen to invest in their personnel’s talent and in the recruitment and training of professionals who can face the numerous challenges posed by modern vehicles’ bodywork, which come with newer and sophisticated ADAS, more and more electrified. 

They also have sophisticated materials incorporated in the automobile chassis, with properties and repairs that require specific knowledge, as well as innovative and digitalized accident management systems, including efficient assessment-valuation of damages. Finally, another challenge garages/shops have to deal with is customer service, both in-person and virtual. A customer who is more demanding than ever, whose shared experience becomes a reputation for the garage and helps to attract more clients, or exactly the opposite.

In this context, several national garage associations have asked their government for an update in the training and access to the vehicle bodywork repair profession, in order to incorporate new young talent. At the same time, they are launching, in many cases together with shop suppliers, training programs in order to qualify their current employees, both operators and people with managing responsabilities. Successfully facing these challenges means, according to these associations, that the shop makes some changes regarding the equipment and the adaptation of facilities. They also list three key aspects regarding personnel qualification, in addition to the bodywork repair technical knowledge: the digitalization of processes in the garage, vehicle damage assessment and customer service.

The associations’ representatives also point out the training possibilities offered by the Internet. They suggest, in addition to continuing to work on in-person training, once the social distancing restrictions due to the pandemic are over, the use of, as much as possible, online training and content platforms. They highlight its better schedule flexibility and its adaptability to each operator’s specific needs.