The fledgling College of Trades in Ontario could lead to a new culture of professionalism in the repair and service industry.
By Allan Janssen
The Ontario College of Trades represents a huge opportunity for technicians in that province… and possibly across the country.
It could address many of the issues that industry watchers say are critical to the future of our trade.
And it could lead our beleaguered industry into a new era of professionalism and respect. But because it came with a $120-a-year price tag, some have written it off. They say the College of Trades was created without their input, is needlessly expensive, and offers nothing of real value.
If those complaints were true, I too would condemn it. But I don’t see it that way.
Instead, I side with those who are excited about what the College of Trades could mean:
* Self-regulation for 48,030 certified automotive service technicians, and 2,162 other skilled trade workers who hold a sub-category licence;
* A Certificate of Qualification that is even more valuable;
* Rigorous enforcement that includes fining unqualified techs and closing illegal facilities;
* Accountability that gives consumers greater protection against bad apples who are incompetent negligent or deceitful;
* The opportunity to establish programs to improve our industry, like ongoing training requirements, consistent business practices, and professional development initiatives; and
* A stronger voice to lobby government.
Will these things happen overnight? Absolutely not. We will need to be patient. But I truly believe all of these things are possible. In fact, if we work together these things are inevitable.
The College is even more impressive when compared to the old system, managed by the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Under that system, we truly received nothing for our fees and no input into the governing of our trade. It was taxation without representation. Granted, the tax was relatively small. At $20 a year, it was like a mosquito bite: annoying but mostly painless. Under that system, no action was ever taken against the scofflaws who thrived outside of rules in their backyard shops with unlicensed workers.
I suspect we’ll one day look upon the creation of the College of Trades as the first step in the rehabilitation of our public image and the birth of a powerful culture of professionalism among our ranks. It may even be the engine that transforms our industry across the country. I know it is being watched very carefully in other provinces.
This is the kind of experiment that can lead to sea changes in an industry.
I know some technicians who have eagerly signed up to the College of Trades. They see the potential, as I do, to improve the industry.
Others have signed up reluctantly – either grumbling about not having a choice, or taking a determined ‘wait-and-see’ approach.
And there are some who are vocal in their opposition and who simply refuse to play ball. They decry the new College of Trades as a “tax grab.” They tend to be the same people I’ve heard over the years complaining about what is missing in our trade: accountability, professionalism development, and respect.
The irony here is that if they took advantage of what is being offered, they would probably get many of the things they truly want.
And at $120 a year, it would be a bargain!
I’d like to hear what you think. You can reach me at email@example.com.