It has typically been the way of automotive repair shops to have apprentices ‘pay their dues’ before they get to do what they really want — work on cars.
And then shop owners wonder why the apprentice left them — and maybe the industry entirely.
So rather than handing them a broom and making sure they’re serving their time, try a different approach, a panel of experts recently said at Centennial College’s Driving the Future 2.0 event in March.
Darryl Croft, co-owner and vice president of OK Tire (Etobicoke), said he takes the time to talk to them. He stresses the importance of the career they’re moving towards.
“They don’t have a real appreciation of how important [it is to be a technician],” he said. “It’s life and death and there’s a responsibility that goes with that.”
Croft then explains the importance of their job to society. He tells them they’re a professional, like a doctor or a lawyer, and people rely on them to make their lives work.
“And their eyes lit up,” he said. “It’s like they haven’t heard that really that much before. And then their chest pumps up a little bit.”
When the shop owner or manager shows pride in what they do, it puts a different perspective on what the apprentice can do as a technician.
“It gives them a whole new enthusiasm towards approaching their continuous learning and development,” Croft said. “They should be very proud because it’s very important what this trade does. They should get that understanding before they even get into the workplace.”
Mark Halliday, president of the Automotive Transportation Service Superintendents’ Association, noted that he never gives an apprentice a broom. He throws them on the floor with an experienced tech to learn. But he also stresses to them that, while it’s a fun job, it’s important to stress the seriousness of what technicians do.
“It’s a high-stress job, if you think about it. You can have one mistake and the consequences can be detrimental,” he said. “Explaining that to apprentices, it’s a real eye opener to them. And they appreciate it.”