Preparing for the future of the industry with Spencer MacPherson
Spencer MacPherson, Service Advisor at MacPherson Auto, knew that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Canada was going to come sooner than anticipated. When MacPherson heard about the EV Up-skilling course at the Innovation in Automotive Training program, he knew he, and the rest of the employees at MacPherson Auto, had to sign up for it.
Service Advisor, MacPherson Auto
What initially interested you in this program?
There were a few things that interested me in this program. First and foremost, it was a great place to start—our knowledge and skills at the shop before starting this program was quite limited. When we looked at the course outline, it appeared that the program was going to cover all aspects of EVs rather than focus on one specific system or component. We needed the foundation of EVs, and that is exactly why we went for this program.
Additionally, the location was right. Being only two hours away, it was easily accessible. Other training programs were more than five hours away or were across the border in the United States. So, the fact that this was nearby in Cornwall—and completely free—was a huge draw.
What was your aim going into the program?
Going into this program, I knew we—myself and the technicians at the shop—had to improve our knowledge and skills regarding EVs. Like I said before, we had very limited knowledge going in and we wanted to expand on that. Our goal was to get our feet wet with the EV world and from there, have the necessary foundation and knowledge to build a plan and figure out how to move forward with EVs.
How was your experience?
We had a fantastic experience in this program. At first, it may seem like information overload, but all that information was conveyed in an eloquent manner and was all incredibly beneficial.
Everyone learns differently, so having theoretical and hands-on learning is good to help everyone learn in their own way and to keep the class engaged. A lot of the time you see technicians be hands-on type learners, especially with our technicians at MacPherson Auto. This part of the course hugely helped our techs feel comfortable and at ease when working with EVs.
Is this program helpful in terms of keeping up with the rapid growth of electric vehicles?
This course definitely prepared me for the emergence of EVs. Because we went in with limited knowledge, it gave us a boost to just keep going with it and continuing to learn more. It also helped us set up a robust training schedule for our automotive technicians and service advisors so they could keep improving their skills to effectively repair and maintain EVs. In a nutshell, this program helped us prepare for the future of the industry.
How has your career changed since you completed the program?
There have been a few changes, yes. We have been able to retain clients who eventually purchase EVs. For example, a couple of our clients recently bought EVs, and fortunately, because of this training, we were able to continue to serve them.
Something that has really changed for us has been our short-term plans. Before we heard about this program, we would bring up EVs in our team meetings periodically—what we thought of them and how we want to move forward with training. Most of the time, the overall consensus in these meetings would be that yes, EVs are here, but there is not a huge demand for maintenance and repair in the aftermarket just yet.
But that is simply not true. EVs are here, they are not just driving in cities or urban areas, but in small towns and rural areas. This emergence has accelerated our plans on what tools and training is required to properly repair EVs. This program helped us adapt quickly.
Unfortunately, I do think that people do put off EV training because they think EVs are not in the aftermarket yet, but they are. If you have the skills, tools, training and credentials to work on EVs now in the aftermarket, they are there to work on—there is plenty.
Would you recommend this program to others looking to boost their EV skills?
I would absolutely recommend this program for those looking to increase their EV knowledge and skills. The information is accurate, it is a comprehensive program, and the instructors are engaging.
I think some techs are a bit nervous to work on EVs in the beginning—and for good reason, there are dangers with them. But if they have that guided knowledge and hands-on experience, then they can become comfortable and confident in servicing them. That is definitely what the program provided us with.
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.