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CARS Executive Outlook 2023: JF Champagne

CARS reached out to leaders in the automotive repair and service sector of the automotive aftermarket to ask them about their thoughts about the industry over the next 12 months: How will this year be different, what will drive change and what will be the biggest challenge. We will present their answers in alphabetical order over the coming weeks…

You can view the full feature in the February 2023 issue.

JF Champagne, President, Automotive Industries Association of Canada

Hiring and retaining trained technicians will be important, especially as EVs continue to become more popular. AIA Canada is collaborating with the Ontario Government on the Skills Development Fund (SDF) with a successful program at St. Lawrence College designed to upskill technicians to specialize in EVs. The 10 participants in the first round of the SDF project have all graduated and joined the industry. Now we are working on acquiring more funding to expand the program.

Retaining technicians will be important. There is pressure on wages, which means ASPs may have to charge more for their services. That is a reality we need to accept.

When talking to students and tradespeople, many say acquiring tools can be a barrier. Other industries are training people and providing them with tools to start with no cost of entry. The auto care industry may need to make a bigger investment to attract technicians.

The industry needs to update its image to attract labour. Jobs in the trades are becoming more attractive and we are competing with other industries looking to the same talent pool. We need to be creative. Active recruiting and mass-media ads are some of the ways shops and banners can spread the word about opportunities in our industry.

AIA Canada has launched an ambassador program to advocate for the industry and our Young Professionals in the Aftermarket Committee continues to showcase the auto care sector directly to the next generation at events like Student Aftermarket Day at Georgian College.

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