Papillion’s Jakob Shiner, a student at Metropolitan Community College, earned the college silver medal in Collision Damage Appraisal at the 2021 SkillsUSA Championships, held virtually from June 14 to June 24.
It was an opportunity he never expected.
“It just blew my mind,” Shiner said. “I never thought I would be a part of something like this.”
The 2017 graduate of Omaha Northwest High School briefly attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but decided it wasn’t for him. Those studies would lead him to something behind a desk.
“It was not my strong suit,” he said. “I decided I wanted more of a family life.”
With an early passion for cars, Shiner started working as an auto detailer. When he became curious about automotive bodywork, his supervisors at Levander’s Body Shop in Omaha took notice. They offered to pay part of his tuition to Metropolitan Community College to study. The plan was to become a body technician.
However, instructors at MCC also took notice of his skills. Shiner said they asked him if he would participate in a SkillsUSA Nebraska competition in the new category of damage appraisal. The former high school cross-country runner had not competed in anything for years. When he took the state gold medal, with the opportunity to advance to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference, he decided to give it a go.
“Let’s see how well I can do,” Shiner said. “I’d never been in a multiple day competition like this.”
Due to the pandemic, Shiner’s event was held over a Zoom video conference. SkillUSA rules say that “contestants demonstrate their ability to perform jobs and skills based on, but not limited to: handwritten estimating, computerized estimates/appraisals, frontal damage, unibody damage, light mechanical damage, rear damage including quarter panel replacement. The overall accuracy and quality of the finished products, speed and proper safety practices will be judged.”
Shiner said the “real world work skills” included appraising the quarter panel of a Tesla, filling out an entire estimate, and explaining to a mock customer what repairs would be needed, all under the watchful eye of industry experts. The tests took four days, ending in Shiner’s silver medal.
More than 3,700 students competed at the national showcase of career and technical education. The annual event is for students in middle school, high school, and college/postsecondary programs. The national, nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry is a talent pipeline for America’s skilled workforce. It is the largest skill competition in the world, according to a SkillsUSA press release.
Tony Larry, General Manager of Levander’s Body Shop, said things are changing for Shiner. Levander’s will be paying all of his tuition for the next quarter. Shiner has moved from detailing to ordering parts and learning appraisals under the tutelage of the main estimator.
“I think it’s pretty cool for a young man to go out, take some college classes and try to make something of himself, then go out on the national level and do something like that is pretty neat. Shows some ambition,” Larry said.
Shiner said he expects to graduate from MCC next summer with a degree in auto repair finish and will be I-CAR Platinum Certified.
“You can’t limit people,” Larry said. “You just got to let him grow. We are pretty proud of him.”