Auto Service World
Feature   November 26, 2013   by CARS Magazine

College of Trades boss meets with technicians

The new registrar and CEO of Ontarios College of Trades says hed like to set up regular meetings with tradespeople like the one he had last month with three automotive technicians.


The new registrar and CEO of Ontario’s College of Trades says he’d like to set up regular meetings with tradespeople like the one he had last month with three automotive technicians.

David Tsubouchi showed up at Lucarelli Auto Tech in Stoney Creek, Ont. to hear comments from Tim Ridley, Brent Edmonson, and Lary Goudge.

Tsubouchi, who has been meeting with groups across the province since his appointment to head up the fledgling – and controversial – Ontario College of Trades this summer, acknowledged it was the first time he’d met with automotive technicians.

During the hour-long meeting, he heard a number of ideas from the technicians. Among them:

Tax Relief for Tool Purchases

Ridley made an impassioned pitch for tax relief to help technicians purchase tools.

“Technicians have the highest expense in personalized tooling,” he said. “I have $35,000 worth of tools myself, and that’s nowhere near the top. There are a lot of guys who have $85,000 or $100,000 plus. Be a voice for us. Go to the provincial government or the federal government on our behalf. It is time for a change. If business owners can write off everything they need to run a business, then I should be able to do that too.”

“I agree with you,” Tsubouchi said. “And there’s a fair amount of sympathy for that. So something may come. I’m hoping it will. And if something happens in that regard, give the college some credit. The college could use all the friends it can get right now!”

He said he would advocate for programs that make sense.

“I can’t control the legislation but I can talk to both (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities) Brad Duguid and (Premier) Kathleen Wynne from time to time when I see them and say, ‘If you’re smart, you’ll consider these things.’”

Better Representation on the OCOT board

“I assume that you, as a lawyer, belong to a regulatory board. And as such you get to vote in your board,” said Ridley. “That would be nice for us too.”

Tsubouchi said the matter is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Ontario College of Trades represents over 150 trades.

He cautioned that unions are well organized and would soon come to dominate the Ontario College of Trades if the board of governors were subject to open votes. The current system of appointments by the province was set up to prevent domination by any one group, he pointed out.

But Ridley suggested a system of part appointment and part vote. “I need to have a say about who’s representing me. That’s something I’ll be pushing for. And if you could speak to Mr. Duguid on our behalf, that would be great.”

Clarity of Mandate

Tsubouchi acknowledged criticisms of the college’s website and strategic plan.

“I didn’t like the strategic plan,” he said. “Did you understand it? I’m a lawyer and I had trouble with it. I believe the strategic plan should be written so the people you are representing – tradespeople – can actually understand it. We’re going to go back to the drawing board on that.”

He said the number one thing the college should be doing is promoting the trades and apprenticeships.

“That’s the number one thing we should be doing,” he said. “We have to get in the high schools and make sure the trades are not the third choice for students after they’ve exhausted university and college, but a first choice for those suited to the trades.”

Ongoing Professional Development

Goudge proposed redefining the college’s consumer protection mandate to incorporate ongoing training.

He pointed out that the college’s enforcement mandate has two components.

“One is to protect the public from the grey market shops or unlicensed tradespeople. The other is to judge our fitness to practice. In other words, if a consumer calls our work into question, the college has a mechanism to slap us on the wrist,” he said. “If the professional development level were higher and we were more competent, the necessity for enforcement could be focused on the people who are illegally working.”

Goudge pointed out that his license represents his competency on an exam he wrote 30 years ago. “It doesn’t matter if I pay $20 a year or $100 a year, it does not prove my competence now.”

Tsubouchi agreed that ongoing professional development would be a worthy goal for the trade.

“It’s useful and necessary,” he said. “You have to keep up with things. But it’s more than that. It has to be an ongoing process, and we’ve got to learn how to do this.”

“There are some things I’d like to see you address in your next registrar’s report,” said Ridley. “I think there has to be a recognition that you guys work for us, and I’d like to see some concrete things being put into place that will benefit the members of the college.”

Tsubouchi said he would like to set up a series of what he would call “Registrar Round Tables” to solicit input from tradespeople on a regular basis.

“I’m not afraid to meet with anybody. Let’s sit down and talk about this stuff. That’s how problems are solved,” he said. “That’s why we’re sitting here.”

He agreed the college needed to be more responsive to its members. “We’ve got to pay attention to how we make the process better. And I’ve had some great suggestions from almost everyone I’ve met with,” he said.

Following the meeting, Ridley said he is more optimistic about the Ontario College of Trades.

“If there is a willingness on the part of the college to start offering real value, I’d be all for it,” he said.

Ridley is a technician at Lucarelli’s Auto Tech in Stoney Creek. Lary Goudge is a trainer with Carquest, based in London, Ont.  Edmonson is maintenance manager at Kenwill Carriers.

 

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