A focus to move kids away from trades and to professional-type careers through university created a “generation gap,” said an aftermarket executive.
“We actually missed a generation gap,” said Steve Leal, president and CEO of Fix Network World. “We’re going to have bigger problems next decade because we missed the opportunity for educating that new generation.”
During this year’s AIA Canada’s National Conference, he pointed to a strategy Australia took that Canada should mimic: Fill the gap by immigration.
They couldn’t get young techs to take up the trade in Australia. So they started a program in the Philippines where techs would be trained for 12 weeks there and then brought over to Australia on a work visa to complete the process.
“So I think in the next decade, immigration for skilled workers is going to help fill the gap,” he said during the session Focus on the future – Industry leaders’ panel
While that’s happening, the industry here can help educate younger generations here while working with the colleges, universities and regulatory bodies to impress upon them the need to draw more people in and speed up the process to get them licenced.
A recent report conducted for the Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario showed that automotive dealers have increasingly been using the Temporary Foreign Workers program to fill vacant positions. But, it noted, the process is costly and extends the hiring timeline.
Jasna Smiljcic, senior director and country leader with Gates Canada, was fully behind the idea of getting more into schools to speak directly to young people about the automotive aftermarket. It’s a way to build a pipeline, she observed.
“Share our knowledge and share what we achieved in this industry and get them excited,” Smiljcic said.
Leal also threw out a strategy to have future techs specialized so gaps can be filled quicker. So, rather than train techs in all areas, have them be able to specialize in one. So you can be specialized as a frame technician or in paint and body work, glass technicians and so on.
“That whole ecosystem will help us get through the next decade and we’ll be better off,” Leal said.