Auto course prepares students for workforce

December 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
No matter what happens to the Big Three there's still a lot of opportunity in the local automotive economy and in the East bay there's a program training students for skilled jobs that are there even if the new car market crashes. In fact, these students are likely to cash-in on crashes.

As you may have heard earlier this week, there's a recession going on. The job market is tough, but it's going to get better someday. There are some that are getting ready.

At Contra Costa College there are students unlike most others. They are part of a two year program that is training them for a well paying job as collision repair technicians.

"We pride ourselves in being able to take a student who comes in here and doesn't have a college-ready skill set, and give them all of that," said Priscilla Leadon, the CCC Dean of Economic Development.

For two decades, Peter Lock has been the heart and soul of these classes. He came from the industry. And after looking at expensive, private trade schools, had a vision of providing the same kind of training for a few hundred dollars a semester, instead of thousands.

"Well, it's training for a cheap price. And it's the same or better training than a lot of private schools," said Peter Lock, from Contra Costa College.

The ultimate goal of a trade program like this, is for kids to get out in the workforce and get jobs. They have an amazing record here with an 85 percent placement rate.

Contra Costa has done it by partnering with local shops for sponsoring and support. Mike's Auto Body has five Contra Costa grads working in its Walnut Creek shop, alone. Rocky Navarro graduated a year ago.

"Basically they teach you what you need to know to get started, and learn the rest here," said Navarro, a collision repair technician.

One of those lessons would be terminology.

"What if somebody says Bondo?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"I charge them $5," said Lock.

That's right. In this shop, the verb "bondo" is a forbidden relic from the lower tech past.

"We can't say it," said one student.

"It's just a bad word," said another.

"You don't bondo a car. You straighten a car and you're straightening it with body filler," said Lock.

So we stand corrected and enlightened. If you bang up your car after the economy comes around, look for these guys to fill a few gaps, the right way.

"All of them get an A if they don't use the 'B' word," said Lock.

Contra Costa College Automotive Program: click here


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