Creating a “learning organization” key to keeping qualified technicians: AIA

August 5, 2022
Editor, Canadian auto dealer magazine

Creating partnerships with local technical colleges, and creating a “learning organization” within your own company are important steps toward making sure you have access to young talent, and retain your qualified employees, says Andrew Shepherd, who is the Senior Director of Industry Programs for the Automotive Industries Association.

In an interview with Canadian auto dealer this week, he said, “I think that shops should be looking to be a partner of the local college. In Canada, there are a lot of efforts being made to boost that kind of preparatory and apprenticeship training. Your local college is connected to the local industry and will have the best sense of where people are and how to attract them. So that’d be my first recommendation.”

Continuing the educational opportunities once you have hired technicians not only trains them better to fix the cars of both today and tomorrow, but it creates an environment where people feel valued and invested in, says Shepherd.

Creating a learning organization within your shop also helps retain people, he said. “Today’s repair shops and fixed ops departments can only survive with technological change by really spending a lot of resources and energy on learning and adapting.

“Fostering a learning culture helps your company in the current environment, and the second thing it does is give technicians a career path, a learning path, and we know that beyond working conditions and pay, the ability to grow, and to to develop your career is one of the most important things for young people.”

Attracting a more diverse group of people into the trades will be important for the future success of the industry, said Shepherd, and this may mean changing what most people think of the auto technician industry as a whole. “The image of auto repair has not been conveyed to people accurately. The amount of computerization, and of diagnostic stuff. I don’t think the average student knows that. There is some solution in doing some basic PR work about modern day mechanics and collision repair technicians.”

Until there is an adequate supply of local graduates, Shepherd believes that recruiting in overseas countries like the Philippines can bridge the hiring gap. “The answer in the short term, certainly has to include going overseas, I think.”

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