The Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council officially launched its CARS Ability skills assessment service today at the AXIS event in Toronto. CARS Ability is a comprehensive skills assessment tool that provides employers and prospective employers with the ability to understand where skill gaps may exist, and what training is available to address those gaps. The program has been several years in the making. In 2002 went to CARS and asked if they could develop an assessment tool for me, said Phil Myers, manager automotive education, Canadian Tire Corporation. They did a quick assessment tool for our technicians. It came back in 2003 and it worked very well, but at CARS they never want to do anything halfway. What resulted was an extensive advisory council process working with individuals from across the country, resulting in the current 100-question assessment questionnaire, which takes about an hour to complete. It is a tool you can use to assess your people, said Myers. Every company is different and you can modify this tool to fit your needs. It is just for you. Many of our stores have used the CARS Ability tool to make their own training plans. It has been very well received. It is very important to identify their skill gaps. You can eliminate courses you dont need to take. You can reduce your training bills, and focus on what that person really needs. When they go t the courses they need they will stay focused on what they need to do. CARS Jennifer Steeves says that the service evaluates skill gaps, but also provides as complete a list of training as possible. We are trying to provide as much direction as possible. A list of courses that match up to various degrees is also generated, and not just those provided by CARS. We certainly welcome any organization to post their training course, though there is a process as courses need to be matched up to needs. That indexing of courses is an important part of what drives the CARS Ability program. When you look at other industries, when they hire and train individuals, they are using professionals and professional benchmarking tools, said Corrie Robley, executive director, Automotive Sector Council of Nova Scotia, and a participant in the creation of the program. We didnt have a functional tool across Canada; nothing specific to assist the automotive service employer. It is really important that we raise the bar in our own industry. We certainly have to raise the profile of our own industry as compared to our competitors in other industries. CARS Ability can be accessed at www.carsability.ca.