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Did you know that here, in British Columbia it is not required to be licensed or certified to work as an Automotive technician, or that this Province does not require businesses in this trade or in any trade to hire qualified trades persons.

You didn't know that?

This has been a thorn in my side for years and one of the motivators for me to create The Automotive Service Business Network.

Click here for Why ASBN?

We know the level of technology driving or being towed into our shops and we have a good idea of what's in store for us in the near future. Yes, there is good reason to be concerned. Not only do we have to continuously source out our own training and update our tooling, but we also have to contend with others in this industry who only claim they are professionals and are doing more harm than good, especially in the eyes of the general consumer. This has been feeding the negative image this industry has endured for years.

When I say 'negative image', you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The public, for years, has had the general opinion that our repair industry is mostly made up of unscrupulous businesses and unskilled workers who claim to know how to fix vehicles.

"If you can't do anything, then you can always be a mechanic" or "Most shops are just rip-offs"

You and I both know the skills required to repair and service today's vehicles and we've also seen the results of botched repairs and misdiagnosis from those who took on jobs that were well above their skill levels and charged heavily for it. What makes it even worse is that some of these repairs dealt with safety components like brakes or restaint systems.

It's no wonder our industry has developed a bad reputation.

Then you have the opposite side of the scale where businesses invest heavily in qualified people, continuous training and tooling updates as well as selecting the jobs that match their skill-sets only to find that 'price shopping' customers complain publicly about your pricing being too high compared to the 'shop down the street'.

Yes, we've lived with this issue for years, but somehow it has to be fixed.

In my opinion, Mandatory Certification of technicians in our industry is the first major step.

In addition, it should be a requirement of all light duty and heavy duty repair businessess that perform diagnostics and repairs on critical systoms that all their service technicians be fully certified.

We need to have everyone on a level playing field and we need our customers to have the confidence that every shop has, at the least, minimal qualifications to work on their vehicles.

I don't think that's too much to ask.

Shortage of Tradespeople

Here's another argument for Compusary Certification.

Since we do have the reputation of being a 'low' or 'unskilled' trade, our secondary school system has deemed our trade as a low priority. As a matter of fact, many secondary schools have eliminated our trade as an option all together.

Not requiring any level of industry certification or specialized training in this Province to work in this industry just solidifies their reasoning. Plus, what would be the motivation for students who have a high mechanical aptitude to take an interest in this trade, while in school, if the school system doesn't have the tools to nurture theses abilities? The result is little interest towards this trade and the school system can now use this reason of disinterest (which they generated) to further cut trades courses.

Isn't the whole purpose of having an education system is to prepare these young minds for the real world?

So, now where do we source our workforce?

Well, there's alway "If you can't do anything, then you can always be a mechanic".

I don't know about you, but I feel insulted.

Having Compulsory Certification would start changing our eductation sytem's viewpoint about the needs of better student qualifications just to enter this industry and maybe, just maybe, they will also adjust the maths and sciences that are better suited for the technical trades. 

Public Opionion

If the general public found out that certifications are not required and businesses are not required to hire certified technicians or that anybody with a tool box can call themselves qualified technicians, you know there would be an uproar.

Then too, everybody ...and I mean everybody, within our industry, the school system, our Apprenticeship Training Authority and our Provincial Government are not saying a word and trying to keep a lid on the subject to avoid negative public opinion.

The problem about avoiding this topic only results in everybody saying "What problem? Nobody has complained, so there is no problem."

So, maybe going public could be the catalyst that will force our Government to generate a solution to this issue.

You just know that public critics would have a field day with this because it would further support their negative opinion about this industry. That, by itself, would hurt us. But it would put the pressure on our Government and our education system to generate change. It would also put the pressure on our businesses and our workers to change how we do things.

The problem is that right now is really not the time to look at that option because this pandemic has taken priority over everything. All resources and energies must be focused on this issue first, so we do have an economy to come back to. 

What Can We Do?

As you probably could imagine, public awareness would force all parties, related to this issue, to take decisive action and that too can create problems. Making haste decisions with poor information will, undoubtably, generate mistakes. That is what happened the last time Compulsory Certification was attempted, here in BC.

What we need to do first is to get our heads out of the sand and start talking about it. First amonst ourselves that will bring up questions that would, no doubt, affect us directly. Then with our Associations that are there to help us put a plan together and then to our local MLA's to help put this plan into action.

The whole point is to bring this subject to life and keep it alive so we can work out the kinks towards a Bill our Government can put forward that is clean, clear and concise. Plus, has the full support of our industry.

Our Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) has started the ball rolling through discussions with our Government (pre-pandemic) to make certification for our industry compulsory and found the Honorable Melanie Mark, minister of advanced education, highly interested in taking on this project.

Plus, to buid awareness here in our industry, they posted an article  on their site to get our attention.

Here's the article https://www.ara.bc.ca/ara-industry-certification/compulsory-trade-certification/

At the bottom of the article there are a couple of links to download and read.

But, there's a problem.

We need a much larger voice than just the business members of the ARA. We need to generate a 'grass roots' movement that spreads to all corners of this Province that includes everyone who depends on this industry for their careers.

Let's Have Our Voices Be Heard

I think what bothers me the most is that the clear majority of us do not know that Certification is not a requirement, here in BC.

So, to start with, the most important thing we need to do is to make sure everyone we know in our industry, here in BC, is aware of this issue so they can make up their own minds if they want to do anything about it.

Copy the address of this Blog  and post it on your LinkedIn or Facebook page and/or your favorite forums pages.

I have also posted this thread on ASBN's forums as well as our Connect pages (our own social pages) for members who want to continue the conversation.

In addition, if you agree  that mandatory certification is a necessary change we need to adopt, send a letter to your local MLA voicing your opinion on the subject.

You can find you local MLA and their links right here on the site.  Click here to go to the page.

Now, that's how we will have our voices heard.

There may be some who disagree with Compulsory Certification for their own reasons and that's okay. But it's important that you say so. Some of the reasons will come up and addressed once a discussion between the ARA and our MLA begins and a plan starts taking shape.

Don't forget. You must be signed up to ASBN.ca to receive newsletter updates on our progress. Register here.

Also, if you haven't yet and you are a business owner, become a member of the ARA. They need your support and our industry needs needs the strengh. Plus, there are a lot of savings to be had through their benefits packages.

This is our industry and our livelihood. Shouldn't we have a say in our future?

 reg now blue

 

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