Are we passing our skills to the next generation? We know the skilled labour pool is shrinking so let’s do our part in promoting the trades.
We’ve heard it over and over again—a serious shortage of skilled labour is on the horizon. Actually, forget the horizon. Many shops currently struggle in finding good-quality technicians. So, what are we doing about it? Well, there has been increased funding from various government levels for high schools, and we know that here in Ontario OYAP has grown its footprint. There are also tax incentives and grants in place for apprentices and employers in the skilled trades. What else?
Skilled trades events
Many school boards run events to promote the skilled trades, and I’ve been blessed to participate in a few of these. It’s amazing how excited the students are when they start exploring and talking about the trades. Often, students range from Grades 7 to 11 and trades are represented by various industries such as hairstyling, cooking, manufacturing, automotive, construction, masonry, arboriculture, etc. Most events will have students performing hands-on activities. It’s awesome seeing their reaction when they accomplished the tasked, especially when most have never tried it before. Kids are quick learners!
Get kids involved
Every so often, our shop runs car care workshops for kids. We teach kids and their parents basic skills such as checking lights, identifying fluids, checking tire pressures, etc. I know – very basic stuff but you’d be amazed at how many drivers don’t do these checks! Let’s face it, especially in the urban areas, most kids aren’t hanging out with their dads and tinkering on cars anymore like in the ‘old days’. These kids can tell me more about their Pokémon stats than they can about cars. I’m not saying we’re going to churn out technicians by the handful here. It’s just one way to get kids involved and interested in cars… and get them off video games for a few hours!
Check your attitude
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard fellow technicians tell young kids or apprentices that the trade is awful, they shouldn’t pursue it, the pay is this, the work is that, etc. Usually there’s a few colourful words thrown in.
They say things like, “Oh, you don’t want to do this. You like cars? Do mechanical engineering. Or go for a different trade. HVAC or electricians, those guys make a lot of money.” If that’s you, please consider this. Why would anyone want to come into the trade hearing all that negativity? If that’s your experience with the trade, I respect it but don’t complain that there aren’t any good technicians or apprentices to hire. Sharing negative experiences is helpful only if you share the learning from it too. The truth is that there are pros and cons to every type of job out there—it just depends on your perspective.
If you have a long-term plan for your business, keeping in mind our future labour pool is important. Do you remember your days being a kid? Why did you come into this trade? What did you love about it? Let’s bring hope and inspiration whenever we talk to the younger generation about skilled trades.