Improving Talent Attraction in Auto Care

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Jean-François Champagne is the President of AIA Canada, you can reach him at [email protected]. Photo AIA Canada

Labour Market Research Report looks at challenges and solutions for recruiting, retaining and developing people in our industry.

Recently, AIA Canada released Phase 2 of its Labour Market Research Report. Prepared by consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY), the report aims to provide insight into understanding existing obstacles facing the auto care sector and potential solutions to overcome them. The first phase looked at the current state of the industry, focusing on labour market challenges, as well as initial research that identified trends and challenges in the sector from other jurisdictions in different parts of the world.

Dynamics and career attraction

Phase 2 included a benchmarking assessment designed to validate basic industry dynamics, as well as the perceived attractiveness of careers in auto care versus other sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, and warehousing. Additionally, EY conducted a jurisdictional assessment to compare Canada in this regard to other countries, including the U.S., Australia, Germany, and Japan. The final part of Phase 2 assessed barriers to talent attraction and retention and made recommendations to overcome these obstacles. 

From this, we were able to concur that overall, Canadians still tend to have a negative view of the skilled trades, and it is these myths and stereotypes that often serve as a barrier when it comes to attracting talent to our industry and other related professions. 

Key issues revolve around a mindset among parents that their children need to have a university degree in order to embark upon a successful career, as well as a perceived lack of diversity within the auto care industry that limits its appeal to certain different demographic groups, including women.

Cost of tools

Another big barrier to entry is the cost of tools. As vehicles become more advanced, more specialized [and costly] tools are required. This puts additional strain on would-be apprentices who are already struggling in an era where the high cost of living is front and centre for many Canadians. It is therefore no longer realistic to expect a recent graduate to invest a large amount of money to acquire tools. That is where collaborative practices between networks and repair centre locations, educational institutions and government can help in providing subsidies or assistance when it comes to tool acquisition or at the very least, providing apprentices with tools to use under specific requirements and responsibilities. 

Another concern is training and education. We already have industry support for training technicians currently working in the industry, but these efforts will need to continue and increase, along with initiatives that attract young people and new talent with the goal of creating a defined and structured career path for these people.

There are, however, encouraging signs on this front. AIA Canada’s Innovation in Automotive Training program with Ontario Colleges and industry partners, in conjunction with financial support from the Ontario Government’s Skills Development Fund project, is a good example of how we, as an industry, can attract new talent for the sector and upskill the current workforce efficiently.

The right people

Furthermore, there needs to be incentives to attract the right people into our industry, since they are more likely to stay and commit to it as a career. Additionally, service centres need to understand that it is ultimately in their interest to properly train and develop the next generation of technicians through mentorship and not use apprentices to only tackle the jobs nobody else wants to do.

In Canada, the auto care sector employs more than 500,000 people and has consistently demonstrated that not only is it resilient and adaptive to changing operating environments, but that it has a very strong value proposition and will continue to be a vital part of the Canadian economy. That is why everyone needs to do their part in ensuring its future, which ultimately, hinges on the consistent and successful recruitment, development, and training of an effective workforce.


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