Becoming a one-stop auto care shop with the Innovation in Automotive Training program
Winchester Automotive Services is the type of business that solves problems other shops often shy away from. With the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs), shop foreman Allan Berkelaar, knew they should expand into this area. Driven by the desire to be a one-stop shop in his area, Allan enrolled in the EV Up-skilling training at St. Lawrence College, offered by AIA Canada’s Innovation in Automotive Training program
Why did you feel the need to improve your EV knowledge?
At Winchester Automotive, we have had a few EVs come into the shop for basic repairs. We were able to help with that, but we realized the need to increase our EV knowledge. After all, EVs are here, and they are not leaving us any time soon. Essentially, we wanted to be able to service EVs in the aftermarket.
What initially interested you in the Innovation in Automotive Training program?
This program ticked all of my boxes. I live in a rural area in Eastern Ontario, and it was hard to find a course that was nearby and accessible—fortunately, the program at St. Lawrence College’s Cornwall Campus was nearby. Also, we knew we wanted to increase our EV knowledge and skills so our shop could service and repair all kinds of vehicles, including the newest EVs.
What was the biggest learning curve you faced while in the program?
Going into this program, you really need to know what you are doing, and you need to carefully read all the information provided. With EVs, there are a lot of moving parts. Take voltages, for example; there are a lot of voltages that could potentially hurt somebody, so you need to be incredibly safe when working with these types of vehicles. I would say that was the biggest learning curve—all of the safety precautions needed. This program provided me with that foundation of safety knowledge. Now, I am able to safely and compliantly repair EVs.
Is this program helpful in terms of keeping up with the growth of EV technologies?
This program is an excellent way to begin one’s career in EV maintenance and repair. Like I said before, it creates that foundation of knowledge. Following this program, you can really hone in on servicing EVs and craft your skill.
The program also helped prepare us for many scenarios that may arise. With this, combined with the knowledge learned in the program, we have implemented comprehensive safety protocols that effectively cover all our bases.
Has this program helped you professionally?
The Innovation in Automotive Training program has definitely helped me professionally; I am now part of the shop that finds answers to problems with EVs. I have the knowledge and I have the tools to properly maintain and repair EVs.
As for business in the shop, it has increased. While most EVs are new enough they are still covered by manufacturer warranty, we are increasingly seeing more at the shop. In the future, as warranties run out, we will be ahead of the curve at Winchester Automotive Services ready to handle EV repairs. We have taken the initiative with this training; we now have the foundational knowledge and know that we want to continue to expand on it.
Overall, how was your experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this program. The class was great; there were some younger technicians, some older, and we were able to throw ideas at each other. We would try different things in a very collaborative environment. That being said, when it came down to the safety aspect of it all, we took it very seriously and listened carefully to everything Saifullah, the instructor, had to say.
I would certainly recommend this program to others. EVs are basically computers at this point—you should see the network and wiring under the hood! This course is ideal for those who are in the automotive trade and are keen to learn more about how to safely service EVs.
About the Innovation in Automotive Training program
The Automotive Industries Association of Canada has partnered with Conestoga College, Fanshawe College, St. Lawrence College, and Plug N’ Drive to offer free training programs to develop new expertise and skills in the auto care industry.
The Innovation in Automotive Training program will include numerous types of training and up-skilling opportunities, such as EV Up-skilling and ADAS, which allows licensed automotive technicians and senior level apprentices to develop maintenance and repair skills relating to EVs and ADAS.