In the wake of the announcement of the CarFixWorld event focused on training and recruitment at the service provider level of the automotive aftermarket, the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) Council has released a report stating that training, technology, and technicians spell future prosperity for the motive power repair and service sector The report, The Road Ahead – Human Resource and Training challenges in the Motive Power Repair and Service Sector, says that employers and employees agree that it takes the right combination of training, technology and technicians to drive the success of the motive power repair and service industry over the next decade. “Perhaps opportunity is a better word than challenge,” says Dan Bell, president of the CARS Council, “because that urgent desire for timely training shared by shop owners and technicians is a good indicator of what a fast-moving, progressive industry we are, using cutting- edge technologies.” Bell’s comments come as CARS unveils these and other findings from a comprehensive industry-wide study of human resource and training challenges facing the motive power repair and service industry. The summary of the CARS report reflects key findings from a detailed analysis of current and future industry human resource and training needs for the next decade. With funding support from the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program CARS gathered sector labour market data using a range of research activities including: surveys of 1,778 employers, 792 employees, and 6 educational and/or training institutions offering motive power training, as well as 30 interviews with key stakeholder groups, including employers, industry associations, and training institution representatives. The research also included five youth and employer focus groups. While the research revealed numerous human resource challenges, these challenges are interlinked and can be grouped into three major themes:
The Skills and Training Challenges Employers and employees acknowledge that ongoing training is essential in order for technicians to keep up with rapidly changing, increasingly complex, vehicle technology. The skills upgrading challenges the industry faces include a training system training lagging in its ability to provide industry with the “right training at the right time” and a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to a commitment to a training culture should the training occur on-the-job, during working hours at the employer’s expense, or after hours on the employee’s time?
Recruitment and Retention Challenges The motive power repair and service sector faces a considerable potential labour gap over the next decade precipitated by a combination of factors such as high turnover rates, retirement, and a significant loss of potential/existing employees to other sectors. Almost one-half of employers (48.1%) reported that they had vacancies in their organization, and almost one-third of employees (29.5%) indicated that they would likely be leaving their current employer within the next five years. To address the impending labour “gap”, it is imperative that the sector adopt pro-active strategies to attract new workers as well as retain existing employees in the motive repair and service sector.
Challenges Associated with Remuneration and Working Conditions Industry employers will have to pull up their collective socks if they want to attract trades-oriented youth and other new employees from a shrinking labour pool, given the working conditions, wage structure and benefits available in other competing sectors including construction, utilities and the oil and gas sector. 87.3% of the employees considering leaving the industry cite wages as an important incentive that would persuade them to stay. Not surprising, considering the weekly average salary in the sector ($612.80) ranks somewhat below salaries for similar occupations in oil and gas ($1,479.43), mining ($1,085.82), manufacturing ($842.33) and construction ($821.92). The Road Ahead Human Resource and Training Challenges in the Motive Power Repair and Service Sector summary can be found on the CARS website (www.cars-council.ca). CarFixWorld, an independent event not affiliated with CARS, is schedule for Toronto, Ont., September 30, October 1, 2006. It is focused on combining technical and product training with a business forum for the mechanical and collision repair industries. Visit www.carfixworld.com for more details.