by Christian Saint Cyr
Automotive Repair has become an ever-increasingly complex occupation and the sector is looking for a tech-savvy generation of workers to master it.
This week’s Interview Thursday guest was Glenn Vollhoffer, President and CEO of the Automotive Training Standards Organization. Vollhoffer acknowledges that cars today are essentially computers on wheels and individuals who can work with this technology have a distinct advantage.
While the average first year apprentice is in their late 20s, automotive repair usually attracts younger workers. Vollhoffer believes this can be attributed to the passion many young people have for repairing and diagnosing their own vehicles.
When asked what people should do in identifying the right automotive repair / service career for them, Vollhoffer said that people should be clear about what they’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter if the person is in high school or a mid-life job seeker, “people need to figure out what they want to be when they grow up,” he noted.
To the casual observer, it may seem as if the automotive industry has fallen into two categories: dealerships and specialty shops that service tires, brakes, exhaust and do oil changes. Vollhoffer noted this is certainly a trend but there are also huge numbers of independent shops that don’t specialize like larger chains do. These smaller shops aren’t only eager to hire good workers, but are also likely to apprentice new workers.
When looking for work, Vollhoffer feels it’s essential that people develop strong resumes and cover letters. According to most BC employers, this is a major shortcoming among many job seekers. People need to better articulate their skills and abilities, focusing on the job they hope to obtain.
Vollhoffer expanded on this when discussing the best way to connect with employers. “You want to do a fair amount of research ahead of time. Find out who is in a position to offer you a job and read up on the type of shop they’re running. Job seekers should also try to be conversational. Look for an opportunity to get one-on-one time with a potential employer and really get into a good discussion about your career objectives and what you can contribute to this employer,” he said.
When asked for a final piece of advice, Vollhoffer stressed the importance of people finding something they like and they’re good at. All too often people drift into careers because they think it’s something that has a good outlook, but not necessarily something they would enjoy. Vollhoffer stressed the auto repair and service sector has great opportunities, but if a person can develop a good understanding of what they would enjoy doing they can select the career that will be the most rewarding.
For more information on the Automotive Training Standards Organization, please visit: www.autoapprentice.com.
Christian Saint Cyr is Publisher of the BC Labour Market Report and author of the BC Job Search Guide. Christian also provides Community Engagement Support for our Burnaby and Chilliwack Employment Service Centres and is the host of our ‘Getting Connected’ and ‘Interview Thursdays’ sessions.