AIA Canada Filling the Gap

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Alana Baker is Vice President, Government Relations and Research, for AIA Canada. You can reach her at [email protected]. Photo AIA Canada

Labour Market Report highlights skills shortages and ways they can be addressed.

Recently, AIA Canada released its Labour Market Report. Conducted in conjunction with consultancy firm EY Canada, the report takes a detailed look at the current state of the labour market related to the auto care industry and provides some options to help with both challenges and opportunities in the sector. A key takeaway has been the ongoing shortage of skilled automotive service technicians. In fact, the report highlights that between 2021 and 2022, the industry witnessed a twofold increase in job opportunities.

Other key factors highlighted in the report include:

  • A slowdown in apprentice registrations
  • Growth in electric vehicle (EV) registrations which increases the significance of having the right digital and technical skills to maintain and service EVs
  • Macroeconomic conditions such as inflation, supply chain disruptions and the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted technician retirements and labour turnover as well as declining apprenticeship applications

Additional challenges currently facing the auto care sector include the lack of investment in training and educational programs that are not keeping pace with the technological advancement of today’s vehicles, as well as relatively low pay compared to other skilled trades. Additionally, persistent stigmas among the general public, namely that the automotive aftermarket and service repair sector is not seen as a vibrant and viable career option, remain a significant obstacle.

Cost of entry

Barriers to career development, such as the cost of entry, also pose challenges given that in many cases, apprentices have to purchase their own tools. Furthermore, those who do take the apprenticeship path are often discouraged in the workplace since, frequently, there is no mentorship structure or a clearly defined career path to help them become Red Seal technician or venture into management roles. 

There are solutions, however. Public awareness and education campaigns that highlight the benefits of a career in the auto care sector, as well as the value proposition it offers, can be highly effective, not only in attracting the next generation of technicians but also in gaining consent from their parents that this is a viable and dynamic career path. 

Centralized platforms

 Additionally, there is a big opportunity to bolster awareness via centralized platforms that provide the ability to deliver information related to automotive service careers easily and effectively. Also, by collaborating with industry leaders to establish accelerated automotive technology career pathways within national educational programs, the result is a comprehensive and efficient approach when it comes to training and skills advancement.  

Collectively, as an industry, with the support from the government and other key stakeholders including repair networks and parts and equipment suppliers, as well as learning institutions, there is a huge opportunity to narrow the labour shortage gap by promoting skilled trades such as automotive service repair as not just a job, but a rewarding career opportunity that enables young people to develop valuable, lifelong skills and thrive in an environment where they make a difference in the everyday lives of others. 

Flexible immigration program

 While we have already seen efforts such as both federal and provincial apprenticeship programs, there is a lot more that can be done. Some examples include fast-tracking visa applications for foreign talent to fill gaps we face in the auto care sector. Canada’s immigration program can prove highly beneficial here since it has the flexibility to incentivize specific skills and occupations.

Additionally, expanding industry-specific apprenticeship programs can help reduce the labour shortage gap by incentivizing skilled trades, which, in turn, can bolster interest and applications. Yet, the challenge is not only getting young people into apprenticeship programs but also ensuring they want to stay in the industry. That is why service centres also have a key role to play in this, by investing in their new hires so they are properly trained, feel empowered and motivated, and able to perform service and repair work on vehicles coming into the service bays not only today but also tomorrow. 



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