In the past, students registering at the College of New Caledonia had to ask themselves which area of focus was more appealing to them. With the programs being run separately, choosing one or the other was the only option.
That’s no longer the case.
Starting in September 2021, CNC is offering both trades in a single program: Automotive Collision and Refinishing Foundation. Thirty-six weeks of instruction will equip students with the knowledge and skills to assess and repair body damage on vehicles. During that time, they’ll also learn the theory behind painting and the actual hands-on painting process.
“Ultimately, the student is going to get training in both areas,” says instructor Byron Hayashi. “They just go hand in hand. They’re going to learn a little bit of both trades to help them become more employable.”
Hayashi gives six reasons to consider taking the reimagined CNC program.
The combined program, he says, gives students better value for their time and money.
“Instead of taking two separate programs, they’re taking one. And the two programs were pretty long. The previous program was 30 weeks to do the autobody, then 22 weeks to do the auto refinishing. Now it’s 34 weeks in total. It’s more condensed and there’s more content to the program.”
Quality of instruction
Hayashi jokes that his experience in autobody repair and refinishing goes back to the horse and buggy days. That’s not quite true, but he did spend more than 30 years in the industry and has been teaching for almost 20.
“I’m certified in both trades and we pretty much have a 100 per cent pass rate,” he says. “My last two apprenticeship classes, they were 100 per cent. And we have a very relaxed way of instructing here. That’s why I think a lot of apprentices come back. For example, I just finished a class and I had one apprentice travel all the way from Port Alberni. I’ve got a really good grasp of what it takes to be successful.”
Connections to the industry
As a long-time and respected instructor at CNC, Hayashi is well-known in autobody circles in B.C. and that works to the benefit of students.
“Shops come to me, looking for people,” he says. “Our program really stocks shops with good employees. And we’re starting to stock shops outside of Prince George. In one of my recent classes, the students were from everywhere – Terrace, Dawson Creek, Quesnel. So we’re working the outlying communities and the reputation of the program is growing.”
In the CNC program, students often get the chance to work on their own projects.
“We don’t do work for the public because we’re not an autobody shop but the students that have the best grades, they get first preference to work on their own vehicles,” Hayashi says. “A lot of these students, they’re into cars. They have maybe an older car that needs repair, and they’ve learned some tips and techniques on how to repair it.”
Hayashi’s students have also gained valuable experience by working on vehicles that come from within the CNC community. One project – completed in 2020 after six years of work – saw students restore a 1973 Pontiac Trans Am.
“It’s something the kids love to do,” Hayashi says. “We’ve done some really cool projects over the years for people in the college. That’s kind of like waving a candy in front of the students.”
Turn your passion into a career
For people who love being around cars, the Automotive Collision and Refinishing Foundation program is an avenue to an apprenticeship and, ultimately, full-time employment.
“If they have a mechanical aptitude, if they like vehicles, the way vehicles run, how vehicles look, and even an artistic flair, they can fit into this industry,” Hayashi says. “Those things help you in this industry. You have to be good with your hands, be able to problem-solve and be open to new technology because this is a changing workplace and it’s becoming safer and safer every year.”
Steady work and strong earning potential
Autobody and refinishing technicians are never out of work, and the most dedicated ones are well-compensated for their time and expertise.
“The job is pretty much recession-proof,” Hayashi says. “When the economy goes down, there always seems to be employment for autobody technicians. They’re always in demand. It’s very steady and it’s all indoors.
“It’s a demanding profession and you have to earn the money but the good technicians, they’re making almost $100,000 a year.”
Next start date: Fall 2021
Locations: Prince George
Learn More about the Automotive Collision and Refinishing Foundation Program
Read more about the program, admission requirements, and learn how to apply.