The just released Labour Market Research Report from the AIA Canada puts hard data to what many in Canada’s automotive aftermarket already know: this industry is challenged to attract new talent, particularly at the technician level, and it’s also losing skilled labour to other sectors.
There is a shortage of skilled automotive service technicians to meet the industry demand, with a twofold increase in job vacancies between 2021-22, says the report. Some 65% of mechanical and collision repair shops saw an uptick in technician turnover in 2022, and some 46% of those who left did so for higher paying positions, often outside the aftermarket.
This on top existing shortages and a drop in apprenticeships during the depths of the pandemic have created a challenging landscape for automotive aftermarket organizations.
The study also considered the impact of electrification of the vehicle fleet on the labour market, emphasizing the increasing significance of digital and technical skills related to vehicle electrification.
A concerning exodus from the industry exists particularly among the youngest members of the industry, with some 56% of those 18-24 in transition having changed industries. Curiously enough, not only does the automotive aftermarket compete head to head with the car dealer network for service business, they’re also competing for employees.
According to the report, dealers are the most popular single destination for workers who choose to leave the aftermarket, with over a quarter of switchers reporting employment in it.
The study was authored by Ernst & Young LLP (EY), engaged by AIA Canada to perform a labour market analysis of the auto care sector, with the aim of identifying the existing obstacles and potential prospects it encounters.
The report found that among the key reasons workers have moved out of the “Auto Care” industry, known alternatively as the automotive aftermarket, cited a poor public perception of the industry or role, a lack of career development opportunities; and Improved working conditions received elsewhere, among others.
The 57-page report includes a detailed assessment of the labour market, but also provides some guidance to help address the issues. These are covered in detail within the body the report, but include recommendations to:
Enhance and update policies and regulations to drive top-down change, and reduce financial burden for workers and businesses in the auto care industry.
Increase collaboration between government, industry, academia, and membership organizations to synergistically implement updated training programs and career pathways.
Optimize information availability through a centralized platform and work cohesively to improve awareness and perception of careers in the industry.
Study authors do stress, however, that many sectors are facing challenges, and that they can be addressed.
“The auto care industry in Canada faces talent attraction and retention challenges that are driven by a combination of factors, including industry attractiveness, competitiveness, and proficiency,” say the authors. “These factors are influenced by Canadian industry dynamics and broader external factors, while industry enablers may help mitigate the existing barriers.”
For information on obtaining the report, visit AIACanada.com/reports