At a time when jobs are scarce and grads are beating the bushes for work, the word has not got out yet that dealers have the “help wanted” sign up.
To change that, the Trillium Auto Dealers Association of Ontario (TADA) hired Dave Fraser to coordinate the association’s Career Start education program.
Fraser has 20 years of experience developing education programs for non-profit associations.
“My mission is to make people aware of the huge variety of careers at the dealership – from sales and service to online marketing and working in the social media aspect,” he told Canadian AutoWorld.
When we spoke to him in September, he was in the midst of taking the pulse of TADA members in big cities and small towns when it came to hiring needs. His goal is to visit all of them and get the word out to schools, in particular high schools – urban and rural – by way of school boards, guidance councillors and teachers that there are careers to be had in car dealerships.
That outreach will also target “marginalized populations” such as Ontario’s aboriginal youth.
Fraser believes that it won’t take much persuading to get young people interested in dealership careers.
“The real advantage we have in the automotive industry is that cars are fun and sexy and most people like cars and there’s a brand they identify with.
“We also want to make young people aware that if they like working with their hands and diagnosing problems, there are careers in the industry.”
He’s not sure that guidance councillors are saying that. But he’s counting on TADA members to help him make educators aware of the employment opportunities on offer.
“Another piece that is huge is encouraging dealers and schools and school boards to work together to create more co-op and apprenticeship programs.
“There’s a dealership in every town. Let’s make sure that every dealership has forged a relationship with their local school board!”
Fraser said that one of the obstacles he has to overcome is the misconception that jobs at dealerships are dead-end.
Todd Bourgon, the TADA’s executive director, said the association has an answer to that. It has produced written material that aims to overcome the stereotypes and a video starring young dealership employees who explain how they enjoy their work.
“We are working very hard to make young people aware of the careers in the dealership, that technicians aren’t grease monkeys because of the technology in cars today and they get paid very well,” Bourgon said “And that sales isn’t a bad word.”