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Skills Development: A Collaborative Effort

Autosphere » Mechanical » Skills Development: A Collaborative Effort
Alana Baker is Senior Director, Government Relations, for AIA Canada. You can reach her at [email protected]. Photo AIA Canada

Better technician proficiency requires commitment from not only our industry but government and learning institutions.

With the auto care industry continuing to face labour shortages, technician proficiency has become a hot topic of late. Many service centres are down by at least one licensed technician if not more, putting added pressure on the staff who continue to work there. On top of that, our industry continues to experience rapid advancements in technology and repair practices, requiring new skills to be learned and refined in order to properly service and maintain vehicles.

Additionally, as an industry, we  need to make sure that we have a consistent pipeline of apprentices that can be mentored and trained to become skilled and licensed technicians.

Confidence and reliance

We’ve consistently seen how Canadians have demonstrated confidence and reliance in the automotive aftermarket and it is up to us as an industry to continue to deliver on that. Some key factors that need to be considered are on-the-job training, online delivery, supplier training and industry provided content. Additionally, service centres should offer an in-house mentoring program in which senior, highly skilled technicians can coach and develop young apprentices and those with less experience. With overall costs on the rise and more pressure on service centres to repair vehicles, there has never been a greater need for finding practical, sustainable solutions to labour and skills shortages.

At AIA Canada, we believe that industry, in partnership with government, can more quickly adapt to meet skill requirements than today’s existing apprenticeship programs. One way to do this is through projects like our  partnership with St. Lawrence College, Conestoga College, Fanshawe College and Plug ‘n Drive. This initiative was designed to deliver a new auto care industry training program that helps to address current workforce challenges.

Made possible through round three of the Ontario Government’s Skills Development Fund, this project builds on the success of round two and has been expanded to include new partners, new training locations and a new curriculum. This Employment Ontario project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

Addressing two challenges

The goal of the project is to address two challenges facing Ontario’s auto care industry: a shortage of automotive tradespeople and the need for automotive tradespeople to be up-skilled so that they can service modern cars and trucks, including electric vehicles (EVs).

The project will consist of the development and delivery of two training programs between April 2023 and March 2024. The first of these, is an EV, hybrid, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Technologies (ADAS) training program. This module-based program will provide employers with free training in modern vehicle technologies that they can offer their workers. It is also open to high-level apprentices, the industry’s future workforce. The program also includes a train-the-trainer module and is designed to help employers get their workers trained even when they face a labour shortage. Finally, it  provides journeypersons that train apprentices with skills to be better trainers and helps build the industry’s capacity to train its workforce.

The second training program focuses on the exploration of the automotive trades , which is open to job seekers without cost, and helps break stigma by exposing participants to how technology has changed the type of work that automotive tradespeople do. Upon completion, participants are well-positioned to find an employer sponsor to pursue an apprenticeship.

EV training

Participants in both programs will receive a training session from Plug’n Drive on non-technical matters related to EVs. This is important information for automotive tradespeople to have so they can share it with the growing number of EV owners in Ontario. During the Plug’n Drive training session, participants will have the opportunity to drive an EV which is an opportunity many have not had.

Exposing individuals early on to the benefits of working in the skilled trades is critical and we’ve already seen the benefits that doing so provides. This doesn’t just apply with post-secondary partners, but also at the elementary and high school levels.

If our industry is to survive and thrive long term, we need to attract more students to the industry at a younger age, so we can help raise awareness about how technology is changing the future of automotive repairs as well as showcase what an exciting and rewarding career this can be.

 

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