April 27, 2006

Auto skills competition highlights shortage of automotive technicians

Burnaby, B.C. – A talented group of high school seniors will be competing at the 2006 BCAA, BCIT and BC Ford Dealers’ Student Auto Skills Competition on May 6 in Burnaby. The competition features the top 20 high school automotive students from across B.C. – representing schools in Abbotsford, Comox, Dawson Creek, Delta, Maple Ridge, Mission, North Vancouver, Penticton, Surrey, and Terrace.

The annual competition, now in its 16th year, is designed to encourage
careers in the automotive industry and raise awareness about the current and predicted shortage of qualified automotive service technicians in B.C. A study by the B.C. Automotive Sector Council in December 2005 highlights a concerning skills shortage in the automotive industry, similar to deficiencies already apparent in other trades sectors. At the time of the study, more than 27 per cent of employers reported that they had one or more unfilled automotive service technician positions. It is estimated that the sector will need to
recruit an additional 2,596 automotive service technicians over the next five years based on a five to six percent annual employment growth rate.

“Industry growth and the lack of qualified workers make the automotive
service industry a lucrative field to enter,” explains Automotive Industry Training Association Chair Glenn Vollhoffer. “Starting salaries for certified, entry-level technicians can range from $25,000 to $30,000 per year. Once the student reaches master auto technician status, he or she may increase their earning potential quite substantially – as much as $70,000 to $95,000 annually.

The hands-on competition consists of 10 two-student teams racing against a clock to diagnose and repair identically “bugged” malfunctions deliberately installed in vehicles. The first team to successfully start and road test their vehicle is declared the winner. Students qualified by taking exams earlier this spring.

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