The closing of The Ontario College of Trades could actually prove to be a great opportunity for the auto repair industry.
Until now we’ve been lumped in with a lot of trades whose challenges are very different from ours. What if we chose to self-regulate, getting rid of a layer of government bureaucracy, and claiming the millions of our dollars that we’ve paid over the years – money that is now just sitting in investment accounts.
The Ontario College of Trades has amassed over $40 million since its inception. Auto technicians contributed an estimated at 21% – about $8.5 million. Add in the other Motive Power trades (truck and bus techs, auto body techs) and it is closer 37% — about $14.9 million.
Working together with those related trades, or going it alone, we could accomplish a lot!
There are many ways that we could use this money and population size to help Motive Power trades in Ontario.
Investing in ourselves:We could use that money to invest in our future. We could buy up-to-date equipment for high school auto mechanic programs and regional trade schools. This money will allow school boards and trade schools to buy up to date technology such as tools, equipment, vehicles and educational material. If want to ensure we get good apprentices and future journeypersons we need to invest in them.
Advocacy: Some trades, like construction, have powerful lobby forces moving their agenda in Ontario. Motive Power trades have none. We need someone to advocate on our behalf for things like fair provincial and federal funding, tax law change that allows us to claim the cost of tools and education, employment insurance reforms that guarantee benefits after the first week of trade school, funding to help apprentices afford trade school, government transparency on trade data, and access to new technology for trades schools.
Industry promotion:We need new workers, and young people need good jobs. Let’s start bragging about what we can offer talented new technicians: lots of employment opportunities in a constantly changing high-tech trade that rewards continuous learning and self-motivation. We play an important role in society, keeping families safe and freight flowing on public roads. We need to educate the general public about the value of a healthy repair and maintenance industries. Full employment keeps motorist costs down and ensures they have a choice of where to get their vehicles fixed.
Benefits: Let’s capitalize on our buying power to save money on everything from cell phones and insurance to hotel rooms, car rentals, and restaurants.
Sustainability:We must look at ways to be able to sustain and not deplete monies we have in reserve. We can do this by corporate sponsorship, government funding, claiming investment into high schools and trade schools.
Representation:We could set up a registered, not-for-profit organization that takes direction from its members, working on behalf of the trades, and being accountable to us for its efforts to improve the industry.
It’s time to stand up for ourselves and advocate for our share of the money OCOT collected from us. Let’s put our own house in order and stop expecting the government to do it for us!
Lindsey Bakker is 310s,310t certified with 30 years of experience. He’s also the owner of Lindsey’s Tire and Auto Centre in Kingston, Ont. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.