Addressing the Issue–Technicians Are Falling Behind

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Ongoing technician training is vital to ensure the future success of the automotive aftermarket. PHOTO Huw Evans

Information access and training investment are essential for the future of our industry.

Technician training in our industry is a topic with many layers. It’s not as straightforward as simply offering courses.

There is no mandatory continuing education requirement for our trade, and the responsibility for training falls on the technician and shop owner.

For years access to the right tools and software was a large barrier to servicing vehicles.

While this issue remains, further compounding the problem is the lack of training available and a growing gap in the technician’s knowledge.

After all, having the best tool on the market is a moot point if the technician behind it doesn’t know what they’re doing.

As the products we repair continue to change and progress in technology, technicians are falling behind in essential diagnostic and service skills.

Qualified trainers

For an industry that boasts innovation and technological advancement, the aftermarket repair business is falling drastically behind.

While the curriculum for automotive service technicians is in need of revision, the other side of the coin is whether there are qualified trainers available to meet the needs of the curriculum.

The government is set on mandating the sale of EVs yet there remains a gap in knowledge and training for technicians to repair them.

Part of the issue with having qualified trainers is also the lack of access to OEM repair information.

That’s another topic altogether though incredibly relevant. How do we develop qualified trainers if we don’t have access to the right information?

Centralized training

Our industry would benefit from a centralized training directory where courses from different providers are listed.

The Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) is presently working on this.

I have heard shop owners talk about their technicians not looking for training, as if they’re not interested.

In truth, I wonder how much of it is because technicians have been discouraged after trying so many times and not finding the right information.

Imagine having one central calendar where you could find courses available for any type of automotive training.

Also, this would be advantageous for jobbers who facilitate training to attract shops who normally wouldn’t purchase from them.

Managing training

Keeping up with an employee’s training path is important for the shop as it sends a clear message that career development matters, the employee is valuable to the shop, and the business remains relevant with the changing technology in the marketplace.

Managing an employee’s training needs requires a lot of time and not all shop owners have that capacity.

One option would be to outsource the management of employee training, much like the way other HR functions are contracted out such as payroll or recruitment.

This would save the employer time and it would ensure that staff receive the training they need.

The industry needs a unified voice to continue advocating for change with the government.

Support your provincial association so that they can advocate on your behalf.

The aftermarket has always had the grace period of a few years before we begin regular service of new vehicles.

Let’s take this time to plan for training and development so that our staff is ready for what’s to come.

Emily Chung is the owner of AutoNiche (an auto repair shop in Markham), a licensed auto service technician, automotive writer, and professor at the Automotive Business School of Canada (Georgian College).

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