Collision Repair Industry – Tradeswomen


We don’t usually expect our Australian friends to be ahead in gender equality awareness but it appears they’ve beaten us to the punch in the collision repair industry. The industry website features a Women in Collision section that is currently featuring the annual awards. This initiative recognises collision repair industry women who are business owners, administrators, damage estimators, assessors and both collision repair technicians (panelbeaters) and paint refinishers (car painters).  See more at  We commend the initiative and the respect due to the small minority of women involved in the wider industry.  Hopefully the NZ Collision Repair Association (CRA) will follow suit soon.  Many women do work in the collision repair industry in NZ including apprentices and qualified technicians, and a few business owners.  Women have traditionally dominated in operations and administration in collision repair too though are often ‘back office’ and far from the lime-light.

The collision repair sector is in a challenging economic cycle currently.  Car accident claims and business levels have never been higher. The two main contributing factors are the significant increase in population and the explosion in the number of cars on our roads in recent years. This has combined with an acceleration in panel shop closures due to unsustainable low margins, and few new entries into the sector for the same reason.  This has naturally led to reduced training of young people at trade entry level and suppressed wages across the industry resulting in a labour exodus.  The recent increase in trade skilled immigrants is helping, and more women in the industry could also be the welcome boost the trade desperately needs.

4 Responses

  1. Suze
    | Reply

    Well done Panel & Paint magazine it’s great to FINALLY see more women featuring in the collision repair industry. Thanks for covering it Crash. We know your boss Karen was a leader in the trade years ago and had one of the big shops in Auckland so good to see the leadership carry on with support for the industry generally as well as for other women in panel & paint. Be keen to see more of our kiwi women profiled too!

    • Crash Management
      | Reply

      So would we Suze – send us your details, or any other women in the trade that you know of!

  2. Rob
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    I’ve just read the August PanelTalk and all the usual talk about critical skill shortages and that’s true, then an excellent article on page 43 about an amazing youngster Alex Banks that’s one of the best young car painters in the country and off to the next World Skills comp. Fantastic. But read the article. She did all the right things but couldn’t get a bloody job in NZ ! This says everything that’s wrong with this trade. This girl did a 1 year pre-apprenticeship training course but had to give up because no one would employ her because she’s female – this is bullshit! We constantly hear about the pre-apprenticeship course boys being snapped up while they’re still at Tech and we can’t get enough of them and that’s true. Then we have a girl who’s now so good she’s a World Skills contender but no one wanted her! What the #$^%& ! Congratulations Stokes Valley Collision for opening your mind! You’ve got a great shop there and I’m sure Alex will help make it even better. And to those that wouldn’t give this girl a chance – shame on you!

  3. Crash Management
    | Reply

    Thanks Rob, great feedback. We have to agree , Alex’ situation appears to be a sad commentary on the collision repair industry in New Zealand. We hear of a few women in apprenticeships, but the ratio’s tiny. Ditto the panel & paint trade generally in NZ. No doubt there’s much more than can be done to promote collision repair to young people – there’s such a clear and growing need for more qualified technicians, we’re told the recruitment battle is currently the biggest challenge. The Collision Repair Assoc seems to be very aware and along with MITO does have some good training & promotion initiatives underway. Hopefully more young women will be included in the apprenticeship intake going forward – we’ll just have to hope there are enough forward thinking employers out there to give them a chance?

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