Jim Voigt, president of the Waterloo, Ont.-based Columbia Auto Group will serve a two-year term as an employer representative for the Motive Power Sector of the Ontario College of Trades.
The Columbia Auto Group, which operates Columbia Auto Service and Columbia Expresslube and Columbia Auto Sales, Detailing and Tire Centre in Waterloo, Ont., has overseen the training of over 50 automotive technician apprentices in the last 40 years.
Voigt himself has worked in the automotive trade for over 30 years as both an automotive technician and employer. As a trade board representative he will serve as an industry expert, providing insights to the automotive apprenticeship program.
“The automotive trade has experienced rapid change in the last 20 years,” he said. “The required skills to be an automotive technician are not what they used to be. One must have a very good understanding of electronics and computers in order to service and repair any sub system in today’s vehicles.”
Voigt says interest in skilled trades has decreased in recent years, something he attributes to the perception in society that a university education trumps trade college.
“Many parents, teachers and counselors are pushing students into university and the skilled trades are suffering from a lack of skilled labour. We need to communicate to young men and women that skilled trades are a great way to guarantee steady employment and make a very good salary. An automotive technician with excellent diagnostic skills and the ability to understand new and changing technology will soon be in high demand.”
The Ontario College of Trades is a self-regulated body that trains students in skilled trades through apprenticeship programs. It was established in 2009 after the Government of Ontario passed the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act. The college regulates all approved trades in Ontario.
Voigt will serve on the Trade Board until Feb. 14, 2014.