AIA Canada urges more funding for skills training at Ontario provincial pre-budget consultations
AIA Canada’s Senior Director of Government Relations, Alana Baker, promoted the auto care sector’s demand for more funding for skills training as part of the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs’ pre-budget consultations on February 6, 2023.
Citing the growing demand for technicians trained to handle electric vehicles (EVs), Alana made the argument that a lack of skills development is an important factor in the ongoing labour shortage in the auto care sector.
“Our industry is facing a shortage of automotive tradespeople and a skills shortage among our workforce which is equally consequential to a labour shortage. A worker that lacks the skills needed to complete service work is just as significant as not having a worker to fill a position.”
Skills development fund—a model for success
As an example of how government investment in training can make an immediate difference, Alana pointed to AIA Canada’s own EV upskilling program, run in conjunction with St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, Ontario. The program took advantage of the second round of the Skills Development Fund (SDF) provided by the Ontario government.
“[The project we have now] has been hugely successful….and is surpassing our targets. We’ve seen participants from this program who have now since gone on to secure new jobs.”
Alana lauded the success of the program and highlighted AIA Canada’s to expand training across the province.
“We have put forward an application for SDF round three to expand the project we have now.”
Support for businesses
Alana encouraged the government to work with employers to help bridge the gaps in trained staff by allocating funding to help businesses provide skills-training opportunities to their employees.
“To address the industry’s skills shortage, upskilling and new skills training systems must be strengthened to meet the needs of employers. For instance, [by providing] funding or [offering] wage rebates to companies who proactively deliver upskilling and training for their employees.”
The EV revolution and the need for right to repair legislation
In addition to addressing funding for skills training, Alana also spoke on the importance of right to repair legislation.
The need for a workforce trained to deal with modern vehicles and EVs goes hand in hand with access to the maintenance information and diagnostic data needed to repair them.
“It is not as simple as hammering out a bumper anymore… Modern vehicles are increasingly connected wirelessly to the internet at all times. [S]ervicing and repairing these vehicles requires access to diagnostic data. Today, these connected vehicles transmit this data directly to automakers, which drives business away from independent shops.”
Alana stressed that access to vehicle data is important, not only for the over 200,000 Ontarians employed by the independent auto care sector, but also to the Canadian consumer.
“Not only is this about allowing fair competition, but also the preservation of consumer choice to ensure that consumers can continue to have access to reliable, essential and affordable vehicle service and repair.”
The Ontario government is set to table its provincial budget on March 23, 2023.