Recent renovations at the training centre at Kia Canada’s head office in Mississauga have shown the company’s commitment to keeping technicians up to date.
At a time when finding good skilled labour can be challenging, Kia Canada believes its reputation as a technology leader has made it a target destination for top technicians.
The company, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Canada this year, has invested heavily in training – not only as a means to stave off the current skilled labour crunch, but to build customer loyalty with reliable vehicle service.
“Our executives are huge supporters of training,” says national training manager Rejean (Reg) Furoy. “They understand that it’s very important to our success, and it needs to keep growing.”
With that in mind, Kia recently renovated its signature training centres in Toronto and Montreal.
Its homegrown technical curriculum challenges technicians to continue learning throughout the course of their career. Kia techs work up the ladder from professional, to senior, to master status as they complete the 50-plus courses available to them. The courses are constantly being upgraded as technology advances, so technicians are required to ‘recertify’ to keep their status.
“You have to keep up,” says Furoy. “You have to upgrade yourself constantly, just as our technology is being upgraded. If you don’t keep up, you will lose your status.”
Courses are available in a variety of forms, from web-only courses which require an 80% score in verifying exams, to virtual instructor-led courses, to in-class hands-on training.
The training centres in Toronto and Montreal are equipped with the latest tools, a fleet of vehicles to work on, a wealth of resources, and world-class instructors.
Virtual learning and web courses have their place, he says, but instructor-led training will never go away.
“We want our techs to come in, touch the cars, work on the cars, show us they know their way around the engines, use all the diagnostic equipment, tear things apart and put them back together,” says Furoy. “It is real-life training.”
Not only do the technicians learn valuable skills, they earn valuable “Kia points” redeemable for Kia swag – something that helps attract new technicians.
“Young technicians want to work on exciting high-tech cars,” says Furoy. “And Kia is not a follower in automotive technology. We are a leader.”
“Our techs have to really be on their toes to fix our vehicles. From the old network systems in our cars, to the latest electrical systems EV technology, transmission – all designed and built by us – to telematics, and telecommunications. We are very high-technology company.”
Kia also celebrates the accomplishments of its technicians, sending the countries two top techs to Korea every other year for international competition at Kia world headquarters. During the last world competition, technician Richard Grenier (now lead trainer at the company’s Montreal Training Centre) won bronze against Kia techs from around the world.
It’s a testament to Canada’s emphasis on strong technical skills, says Furoy.
“We have technicians coming in from other brands who are shocked at how much they have to learn!”
And if the company’s first 20 years are any indication, Furoy says Kia will continue to lead the way in training and technology.