Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2003   by CARS Magazine

The Future Is Wide Open – Launched!

Auto Repair and Service Career Info Now in Schools Across Canada

Representatives from the manufacturers, aftermarket, apprenticeship, counselling, education and training were on hand as the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada, Jane Stewart, officially launched the new career information kit, “The Future Is Wide Open”. The ceremony and reception were held in Toronto on November 29th.

Presentations were made by the Honourable Jane Stewart; Mark Nantais, President of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association and Chair of the CARS Council Board; Dan Bell, CARS President; Fleur Govaerts, Automotive Instructor at Centennial College, and Jennifer Steeves, CARS Project Manager.

The career information kit includes resources for students, teachers and industry to help young people explore the many career options in the industry and to gain a better understanding of the skills and knowledge required. Kits are now available in secondary schools, and in many middle schools, in every province and territory.

CARS has now distributed approximately 18,000 kits to-date and has implemented a media strategy to promote industry careers and the resources available. Distribution through various networks to help increase awareness of the resources and to encourage the promotion of our industry careers has also been a large undertaking. General Motors of Canada dealerships, provincial and national trade associations, counselling associations, colleges, Skills Canada provincial offices, employment centres and libraries have been provided copies of the kits.

Dan Bell provided the audience with some background to the project and the research that clearly indicated little awareness among students and their teachers of the variety of occupations and the on-going training required. Two important objectives were identified for the project. First, to increase awareness of industry careers and to provide accurate and up-to-date information, and, through this education, to improve the image and respect for those who work in the industry.

The career information kit includes resources for students, teachers and industry.

Better awareness of industry careers is key. “So many students are encouraged to go to university and are not provided information about opportunities in the trades. If young people, educators and parents have access to better information about apprenticeship and the trades, they may find many rewarding options they had not previously been aware of,” commented Mr. Nantais.

Fleur Govaert’s career journey provided an excellent illustration of how someone who is motivated can begin in an entry-level position and, with a commitment to learning, work towards new opportunities. Fleur shared with the audience her journey and the satisfaction she has experienced through her work, “…I am one of the few, very fortunate people who have been able to turn a passion into a career.” Fleur’s love of motor racing drew her to the industry, where she began working as a car jockey at a dealership. Dedicated to her training and after working in several different occupations, she is now instructing the course she graduated from.

Minister Stewart congratulated the advisory committee and all those who had worked on the project for putting together a tool that will help young people explore their future careers. The Minister also recognized the importance of providing good labour market information that speaks to students and that engages and encourages them to explore their future opportunities. The importance of industry recognizing its role to develop its human resources to reach full potential was also underlined.

At the end of the ceremony, the Minister presented a kit to a representative from each of the target audiences. Gary DaCosta, representing education, was the Chair of the advisory committee and is a teacher at E.C. Drury High School. Esther Scott, advisory committee member, is a Customer Relations Manager at Carling Motors and accepted a kit on behalf of industry.

Josh Paskinov, a grade 6 student, received a kit from the Minister on behalf of students. Josh is already exploring his career options and is very interested in repair and service!

CARS has been very pleased by the very positive reception the products have received and the interest they have generated. A formal evaluation of the project was completed in December and comments received from counsellors who have received the kit were very encouraging, “…I have just received and opened the CARS Career Information Kit and love it! It is one of the best career planning products I have seen…”

Several dealerships, shops and provincial associations have called CARS to let us know they have already, or are planning to use the resources for presentations at their local school(s). It has been well documented that students prefer to hear about career information from someone working in the occupation, so this has been great news.

It is hoped that through this work and the partnerships being established between local schools and industry that young people, parents, and educators will consider repair and service careers as an equal option to all other career choices, and maybe even, the best choice!

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