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Automotive Sector Council of NS Reducing Barriers to Employment

December 7, 2022

Innovations in Attracting and Retaining Untapped Talent Launch of Recognition of Prior Learning, Tire and Maintenance Technician Program


From left, MLAs Lorelei Nichols and Tony Ince, Assessors Craig Caldwell, Travis Atwater, Wade Ryerson, ASC Manager Nikki Barnett and Assessor Wayne Atwater

From left, MLAs Lorelei Nichols and Tony Ince, Assessors Craig Caldwell, Travis Atwater, Wade Ryerson, ASC Manager Nikki Barnett and Assessor Wayne Atwater

A celebration to recognize the first Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for Tire & Maintenance Technician (TMT) Assessors in Nova Scotia and launch the new RPL TMT program for Nova Scotia was held on September 15, 2022 at Steele Chevrolet, Dartmouth. The event celebrated two and half years of Program development and 3 days of training five TMT Assessors and the Assessment of 3 employees from Coast Tire, Truro and Rapid Wheels, Halifax. Certificates were presented to the first ever TMT Assessors in NS. Guests included NS Apprenticeship, MLAs Tony Ince and Lorelei Nichols, Industry employees and employers, NS Career Development Association, NS Works, Teachers, and Community Organizations.

What is it, who is it for and why did ASC create the program? How did we do it?

RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) is a competency-based assessment program for job seekers and uncertified persons who have a strong interest and/or prior automotive knowledge/experience and may or may not have formal certification. The program recognizes that individuals learn at work, through study, in community, personal activities, and at home. The RPL Automotive Tire and Maintenance program is specifically designed for the Nova Scotia Automotive Industry, developed by Industry and Industry partners who contributed over $250,000 in-kind. The program highlights what a candidate knows and can do. The Automotive Sector Council (ASC) created a new stream of attracting and retaining employees in the industry. Needs, identified by Industry and Labour Market Information, identified a severe shortage of automotive service technicians, and that previously untapped pools of workers were available. This pool of workers often had prior experience and training but did not hold a certification and/or faced barriers to employment.

Assessors Wade Ryerson, Travis Atwater, North Pacific's Dan McFaull, Steele General Manager Colin Jamieson, Advisors Wayne Atwater and Craig Caldwell Missing Rafael Tomas Jr.

Assessors Wade Ryerson, Travis Atwater, North Pacific’s Dan McFaull, Steele General Manager Colin Jamieson, Advisors Wayne Atwater and Craig Caldwell Missing Rafael Tomas Jr.

How did we create the program?

The then, NS Department of Labour and Advanced Education, now Labour, Skills and Immigration, offered a 3-year funding opportunity to develop a RPL Program to meet an industry Labour Market Information-identified issue of not having enough service technicians to meet the demands of employers, and of a need to increase diversity in the workplace. Over the past 2.5 years in partnership with industry, NSCC and NS Apprenticeship, and consultant Dan McFaul and Taruna Goal, ASC has taken an idea plus an opportunity to full program implementation.

ASC implemented a Technical Working Group, consisting of 8 representatives from industry, as well as NS Community College and NS Apprenticeship Agency, to develop the competencies assessment tools and resources of a Tire and Maintenance Technician. These tools facilitate the assessment and recognition of the existing skills and knowledge of uncredentialed workers within, or those entering, the automotive industry. The program is designed to assist and supports candidates in being prepared for an Apprenticeship as an Automotive Service Technician. Employers benefit from ready-to-hire, competency-certified qualified technicians streamlined for Apprenticeship. What is unique is that the TMT program is an industry- and partner-led initiative developed for industry by industry. The program will be managed by ASC and its Board of Directors. The program sets a competency and safety standard for industry and removes barriers to employment for job seekers.

Technical Working Group Rob Ward, Pat O'Malley, Glenn Cutting, Stephen Campbell, Committee members Shirley Mitchell, Wade Ryerson and Cory Rafuse Missing Luke Monk, Gary Quigg, Aaron Fisher & Bill Gray

Technical Working Group Rob Ward, Pat O’Malley, Glenn Cutting, Stephen Campbell, Committee members Shirley Mitchell, Wade Ryerson and Cory Rafuse Missing Luke Monk, Gary Quigg, Aaron Fisher & Bill Gray

Reflective comments and thoughts from our Program Launch September 2022 from NS Apprenticeship, Municipal elected officials, Industry, and NS Dept of Labour, Skills & Immigration include:

The magical reflections from many at the event were the industry enthusiasm, energy, support and commitment both from the 5 assessors, the 3 young Tire & Maintenance Technician candidates and the Technical Working Group that worked multiple hours to bring an idea to a full working program. The Sector Council has 3 Technical Working Group members who could not take part in the Assessor Training but there is an option for them to certify in the near future. That will make 8 TMT Assessors in total.

Employers recognize and value the 150 years plus industry experience from the Assessors and the diverse group both in age, training, and citizenship status. The assessed candidates are all young; one coming recently from another province, one being a new Canadian and one coming from a more rural area. Two are employed with Coast Tire, Truro and one with Rapid Wheels Mobile Service, Halifax. Immediately following the morning training session, ASC hosted a Technical Working Group (TWG) Committee meeting. The Assessors attended and provided valuable feedback to the TWG. It appears that they will be adding a competency around awareness of electrical vehicles and safety tasks.

It is worthy of noting that in many of the training debriefings, it was identified that this program will benefit the industry in general by improving retention, attraction, safety, training standards and professionalism. In addition, Apprenticeship knowledge and experience has made for a solid TMT program that will prepare and assist employees to enroll in Apprenticeship.

Beth McNeill, ASC Board Chair and Employer in her greeting stated “Yet another avenue, provided by the Automotive Sector Council, to meet labour needs, attract and retain employees and provide new possibilities for the Automotive Trades. This RPL Program was spearheaded by the Automotive Sector Council, where the TWG started with 8 volunteers who gave 4 hours a month for the past three years. A lot of time and energy has been put into this program and now, we have reached a milestone…. this is the very first certified RPL Program in Nova Scotia! Well done!! Thank you to all that made this possible and for your commitment to provide future opportunities for growth of the automotive industry”.

Steve Campbell, NSAA on behalf of Marjorie Davison, in his greeting commented; “Part of our NSAA Mandate states that we are to steward and operate a relevant, accessible, and responsive industry-led trades training and certification system and improve access and participation in the system” It was stated that “we could not fulfill our mandate without industry and our partners. The Tire and Maintenance Technician program has been designed to meet the labour needs of industry as identified by industry. It has been developed over the last 2 years and is an excellent example of great collaboration. The program sets standards for the TMT occupation and also provides a steppingstone for individuals who may wish to pursue the full AST trade.”

Left to right, Program Manager Judy Dickson, with TMT candidates Gurpreet Singh, Brayden Carmichael, Ethan Beazley and ASC Manager Nikki Barnett

A genuine endorsement response to the program came from the Steele Auto Group who worked with ASC in providing $20,000 in kind support for space, equipment and resources to complete the Assessor Training and the assessment of 3 candidates. General Manager Colin Jamieson, Fixed Operations Manager Mike Walters and their staff at Steele Chevrolet, Dartmouth welcomed and fully supported the ASC staff, and the Assessors. Additionally, the invitation to call upon the Steele Group across the country to support the programs was given to ASC.   NS Dept of Labour, Skills & Immigration commented “What a fantastic investment that will have impact for years to come.” Comments from industry at the Launch included “this program will increase safety, diversity and raise standards in the industry.”

ASC is very grateful for all the hours of hard work from industry and industry partners and for funding from NS Labour, Skills and Immigration.

For more information or to have questions answered, please check out www.automotivesectorcouncil.ca

ASC Manager Nikki Barnett, Assessor Craig Caldwell & NS Apprenticeship Agency Paula Demone