Creating the next generation of highly-skilled service technicians.
Right now in the service repair industry we’re facing a demand for technicians. For many years, among the skilled trades, automotive technicians were not held with the same regard as others such as fitters, sheet-metal specialists or plumbers.
With vehicle technology advancing so rapidly, that is changing. And I believe that this technology will transform the service repair industry, providing young people with a huge professional opportunity. Right now, we are often dealing with a situation where those who are able to provide the best wages win. But this model is not sustainable. When you’re in a situation like that, you’re not necessarily hiring the right person for the job because quite often, there are too few people available. I know that when we do interviews, there’s no guarantee that we will get that person, most technicians have multiple offers at any given time.
Inspired and driven
Yet, I do believe this scenario won’t last forever. We will reach a point, possibly in the next 4-5 years where young people will look at automotive service as a good career path and will be inspired and driven because they want to do it, not just because it pays a good wage.
In order to do that effectively, however, I believe that as an industry we need to start working more closely with local high schools and help develop programs that give these kids the opportunity to transition into successful careers.
At grade eight and up in the high school system, creating shop programs that are relevant today and relevant tomorrow is critical. It will require investment from government, industry and individual people to make it happen. We want to be able to show these kids that automotive service and repair is an exciting, dynamic career opportunity where you get to learn about the latest technology and work on hybrid and electric vehicles. Too often, I’ve seen high school programs where students are stuck working on 25 or 30 year old donor cars that don’t represent what students are seeing on the road.
Personally, I’d like to see a situation where schools and teachers are able to work directly with OEMs who can provide the opportunity to get up close and personal with the latest electric vehicles in shop class. The only way to do this successfully is to take a forward-thinking approach and work together collectively, including the teachers, schools, government and industry. We need to be in a position where we can inform and inspire the next generation of service technicians.
The right message
This is a highly skilled trade, and if we are able to send out the right message, we stand a better chance of attracting the right people. For those that are willing to put in the effort and have the drive to succeed, it can be very exciting and ultimately very rewarding.
We need good people in this industry and I believe we are coming to a tipping point where we will either start sliding down the slippery slope or start climbing the mountain. Ultimately, it’s up to all of us—whether we work in a shop, in a high school, in government, for an OEM or the aftermarket industry—to make it happen. If we do, we’ll be able to build a solid foundation for the future of this industry and this country.