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Retail automobile industry is brimming with opportunities

One of my goals as president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) is to promote education and career opportunities in the retail automobile industry.

As past chair of the TADA’s Education Committee, I have had the privilege of participating in the planning and strategizing about many education initiatives to promote our industry to youth and millennials.

A myth persists that we are only about changing tires and selling cars, but our industry is much more than that. With my appearances at industry events, my industry connections and as a Wheels columnist, I am trying to change those outdated stereotypes.

I know those stereotypes exist from comments I hear from customers, from people I meet at conferences and from those who visit the TADA exhibits at the Canadian International AutoShow in February.

At the 2018 AutoShow, the TADA’s exhibits and interactive displays opened many peoples’ eyes to education and careers that they did not know existed. It is thrilling to see a parent or student discover the wide world of career opportunities and possibilities and get excited about our industry.

The retail automobile industry involves dozens of professions, from administration, accounting and sales, to human resources, marketing and service advisor. The careers available in auto tech include licensed automotive technician (specializing in electrical, diagnostics, communication, engineering of the vehicles, hybrid and hydrogen technology, to name a few), auto body repair technician and auto body refinisher technician.

Fact is, our industry is evolving and needs skilled workers in all areas. More specifically, we need young people and millennials with drive, enthusiasm, new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

I know that competition for today’s youth is stiff, and that many industries are vying for the same students that we are trying to attract. However, our message is being heard and it is resonating with the public. We have a great story to tell.

In 2014, the TADA hired a full-time education coordinator, Dave Fraser. Since working with the TADA, Dave has developed new relationships with high schools and post-secondary schools across Ontario, and nurtured existing relationships with our partners at Centennial College, the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie, Conestoga College, Algonquin College and Durham College.

Dave liaisons with school boards across the province, meeting with faculty and students to discuss the employment needs of TADA’s 1,100 member dealers. He also attends job fairs across Ontario and advises dealerships about how best to connect with students.