A non-profit organization is trying to give the Canadian auto repair industry, including tire service, online tools to assess employee skills.
The Canadian Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) Council, a government-funded group charged with providing training and professional development opportunities, asked a Sept. 28 gathering of repair shop owners in Toronto to assist it in formulating questions for skills tests conducted online. The plan is to create quizzes for 30-plus occupations in the auto service industry and hopefully launch a Web site featuring all these tests next year, according to David Meader, project manager for the CARS Council.
Each of the occupations was identified and prioritized by an advisory board comprised of industry employers, he said. Mr. Meader declined to discuss if training programs would also be created but said the online tests are a way to show employees their strengths and weaknesses for performing a particular job.
``If a service tech wanted to be a service manager, he could go in and take a look at the service manager's requirements and find out if there were some areas that he was maybe weaker in and identify areas that he should focus on to improve his skill level,'' Mr. Meader said.
Employers also could use that information to train their employees in skills that the tests indicate are weak, according to Len Ritchot, president of City Tire Centre in Saskatoon and president of the Western Canada Tire Dealers (WCTD) association.
Mr. Ritchot attended the Toronto meeting and is part of a focus group assisting CARS in developing test questions for tire technicians. Mr. Ritchot said he and some other tire dealers in attendance are supposed to submit questions to CARS in early to mid-November.
He said that once the tests are online he wants to learn how dealers can use it to their benefit before introducing the tests to WCTD members.
Mr. Ritchot added that he hopes an online assessment is the beginning of a national tire technician training program in Canada.
``Here in Canada, we really don't have any real training program for tire technicians,'' he said. ``We use the TIA (Tire Industry Association) program.''
Although he thinks the TIA Automotive Training Service program is good, Mr. Ritchot said he doesn't know why there aren't similar Canadian programs. He thinks that perhaps a government-funded program administered through the country's colleges would help train qualified people for automotive service careers.
``On behalf of WCTD, we're trying to get some local trade school to put on a tire technician program,'' he said.
Kendale Penner, co-owner of K.K. Penner & Sons Ltd. in Blumenort, Manitoba, is another tire dealer who also is helping create questions for the tire tech exam. He said he was optimistic about the CARS Council initiative and that it will help lead to more employee training.
``It will be useful for us to use even if we want to run a pre-training exam for our techs before hiring,'' Mr. Penner said. ``We have a medium truck certification program that we always start our employees on when they're starting here. This is another thing to give them some knowledge and get them started.''