Building a Pipeline for Future Technicians

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Diane Freeman is the President of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). You can reach her at [email protected]. Photo Diane Freeman

Grabbing the attention of today’s youth is key to long-term success in the aftermarket.

Many industries are having similar issues attracting our youth into the Skilled Trades. We knew that the baby boomers are retiring and they make up a large percentage of the workforce in the automotive sector.

The Government of Canada Job Bank recently reported that for automotive service technicians, as well as heavy truck and bus mechanics over the period 2022-2031, new job openings are expected to total 54,000, while 44,800 new job seekers are expected to be available to fill them.

Canadians have managed to avoid a crisis because baby boomers have continued to work beyond retirement age. There are several reasons why Canadian baby boomers haven’t been as eager to retire as our neighbours to the south. For one, some provinces have done away with mandatory retirement ages, allowing people to work longer. People can choose to delay their Canada Pension Plan benefits as they continue to collect their pay cheques.

Hard to let go

I have been speaking with some recent retirees and found that they are still planning on doing something to keep busy, either volunteering or consulting, advising and staying involved in the automotive sector. Once you’ve established your career in the automotive industry, it is often hard to let go—something which even personally, I’ve heard over and over. Many of us look forward to events and trade shows where we can catch up with like-minded people and over the years we have built strong, long-lasting relationships across Canada and the U.S.

The biggest challenge our industry has today is finding skilled labour. Plus, once you do find them, you often have to pay them a lot of money to stay. Otherwise, they could jump ship and you’re back at square one. Let’s face it, we have to keep up with ever-changing technology from the vehicle OEMs. We need more tech-savvy minds to become automotive technicians. They have to continue upgrading their skills and utilize more specialized equipment, tools, and software. Being a modern automotive service technician is a rewarding career and every day is different, so there’s little chance of getting bored. The shortage of skilled labour today is also driving up the cost of the repair and maintenance of vehicles, wait times are longer, and we’re seeing a shortage of parts which further adds to delays.

Not all doom and gloom

That being said, there are some positives. We still have young people willing to become automotive technicians, not only as skilled trades but also because they’re enthusiasts by heart and have chosen to enter this field because of their passion for cars (like many have in the past). As they say, do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life!

The Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) board have been reviewing the current shortage of young people coming into the aftermarket and our members have been speaking to youth in schools about a career in the automotive industry.

To really make this work, we need to start at a very young age at the grade school level, so we can get kids interested and tell them about the rewards and opportunities in the automotive industry. These young people are our future and AARO has and will continue to work with the colleges to promote the automotive trades to ensure the aftermarket attracts the brightest and best.



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