While there are hard, technical skills technicians of today and tomorrow will need as vehicle technology advances, soft skills will also be important, attendees of a recent automotive event heard.
What Pierre-Hugues Comiré, regional field technical manager at Hyundai Canada wants to see is a positive attitude and willingness to embrace new technology.
He can easily tell who the technicians are that have embraced new technology and those who haven’t.
“If you embrace it, you’re going to read up about it, you’re going to watch [what’s coming]. There’s so much available information online,” he said, adding that information can be had just by asking for it.
“So what we need are critical thinking men and women with a passion for this work,” Comiré said during Centennial College’s recent Driving the Future 2.0 event.
No one works in a shop alone, noted Chris Chinn, network operations manager at Consolidated Collision Services. Being able to work as a team is a critical skill for technicians. Someone is intaking that customer, work is being built, someone is working on the car, the customer is being contacted and the vehicle is being returned to them.
“Everybody needs to communicate. So you need those skills of communication,” Chinn said.
He added problem-solving skills to the list. “There’s no one way to fix a car, other than properly and safely. But you need that problem-solving skill because every shop is different. You may not have all the same equipment, you may need to think outside of the box to be able to repair that vehicle.”
Then there’s also critical thinking and reasoning skills, said David Cochrane, regional sales manager at Delphi. He referenced an old adage used to be you need to be good with your hands to get involved in the trades and that simply being good with your hands was enough to move you forward.
But now there are diagnosing skills. That calls for technicians to be thinking more about what’s happening under the hood.
“So critical thinking and reasoning skills, knowing what’s in front of you, and knowing how to be able to take it to the next level, and to work your way through it are very important,” he said.
Rob Morrison, Canadian fixed operations manager at Phaff/Lithia, agreed but even urged technicians to just flat-out think.
“Get rid of the word critical. Just think. We are a process-driven industry. We follow process; we have repair manuals that start at A and end at Z. We train everybody to follow that process,” he said.
To just “think” is “the ability to go, ‘Wait a minute, Step B doesn’t make sense. What’s another step that could go into it?” Morrison said.