Occupations in this sector

An Automotive Service Technician performs preventative maintenance, diagnoses problems and repairs vehicle systems in cars and light trucks. As described on the website of the Ontario College of Trades, more specifically, “an Automotive Service Technician diagnoses and repairs:

  • engines, transmissions, clutches, rear ends, differentials, brakes, drive shafts, axles and other assemblies;
  • alignment of wheels, axles, frames and steering mechanisms
  • suspension systems, including shock absorbers and spring assemblies;
  • ignition, charging and starting systems, panel instruments, wiring and other electrical/electronic systems and equipment;
  • fuel and engine management and emission control systems;
  • air-conditioning, refrigeration and heating systems.”

Occupations in this sector include vehicle repair, service, and repair cost or damage estimation.

The starting wages for an auto mechanic in the GTA could be the minimum wage of $14.00 per hour. At the high end, the hourly wage could be over $34.00 per hour. However, the median wage in this occupation in the GTA was $22.00 in the most recent Labour Force Survey.

For one media report on the prospects for entering this trade, see: I want to repair cars. What will my salary be? [June 24/15, Globe and Mail].

According to the Labour Force Survey (June, 2018), in Canada:

      • 12% of workers in this occupation were self-employed;
      • 96% worked full-time;
      • women represented only 2% of workers in this occupation compared to the average of 48% for all occupations.

Regulation and certification

The occupation of “Automotive Service Technician” is a regulated trade in Ontario, meaning that following a period of apprenticeship, a certificate of qualification is required, as evidence of successful completion of the required levels of course work and experience.

To become an apprentice, an individual can begin by finding an employer willing to hire him or her in that role (on a paid basis) and then joining the Ontario College of Trades and enrolling in a community college program. Another entry route is to first enrol in a college program and then find a paid apprenticeship job. An apprenticeship usually takes about four years to complete 6,500 hours of work and 720 hours of in-school training.

Upon completion of the period of apprenticeship, a certificate of completion is issued by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skilled Development (MAESD). Then, following passage of a required certification exam, the individual can be registered as a “journeyman” in the trade.

An internationally-trained newcomer can apply for a Trade Equivalency Assessment (TEA) if he or she believes that he or she has experience and qualifications in the trade that are equivalent to having completed the Ontario apprenticeship program. This assessment will look at previous training and work experience and determine whether the newcomer is qualified to write the Certificate of Qualification Exam for this trade. (Documents describing work experience and training must be translated to English or French by an accredited translator.) The Equivalency Assessment is a multiple choice exam. If an applicant has a physical, psychological, learning, or language barrier that may make it difficult to read or understand the questions on the exam, he or she can have an accompanying translator, interpreter, or reader during the exam, if requested in advance. For more information, visit the College’s website for Trade Equivalency Assessment.

Value of English language proficiency

There is no official language level requirement for trade certification in Ontario.

However, in order to be eligible to enroll in an automotive service technician in-school program, applicants must generally have at least a high school education or equivalent, including Grade 12 English. Yet, if a newcomer can find an apprentice job, working for a willing employer who does not require strong English communication skills, he or she can begin work immediately and wait until a later date to take the in-school courses, once his or her English proficiency has improved.

Private sponsors should be aware of the impact that they can have in helping a refugee newcomer be accepted as an apprentice automotive service technician in Ontario. In Ottawa, with the assistance of private sponsors, one Syrian newcomer who had very little English speaking ability, was accepted by the College and his story was recounted in this report: A new life, a full-time job: a success story for Syrian refugee family living in Ottawa (Bemac Autobody – automotive) (Jan 3/17, CTV Ottawa). While this newcomer’s English has improved significantly, he has not yet been able to write the journeyman certification exam. However, his employer had indicated to us that his work has been “phenomenal” and he continues to be paid for his work.

Training programs in the GTA

There are currently no bridging programs in Ontario for newcomers to enter the automotive service technician field. However, pre-apprenticeship training programs help unemployed individuals become eligible for apprenticeship training. ACCES Employment, for example, offers a free, four- week automotive skills training program, called Motive Power Connections. This program, located in Mississauga and Brampton, is designed for newcomer and refugee youth ages 15-29 who are interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry. Following completion of the pre-apprenticeship, the newcomer can apply for an apprenticeship.

Tropicana Employment Centre also offers a free, 30 week, full-time, pre-apprenticeship program for youth (ages 18 to 30) with a valid driver’s license, for Autobody and Collision Damage Repairer. This program is not specifically for newcomers.

In the GTA, Centennial College and Durham College each offer two-year, diploma courses for automotive service technician. Centennial College, in conjunction with Canadian Tire, also offers a modified apprenticeship program that takes 36 weeks to complete. None of these three programs is designed for newcomers, specifically.

To view these and other in-school, Automotive Service Technician programs available at community colleges in Ontario, visit: Automotive Mechanic and Repair Programs at Ontario Colleges .

Job market outlook

According to the synopsis provided on the Job Bank website: “As job openings and job seekers are projected to be at relatively similar levels over the 2015-2024 period, it is expected that the balance between labour supply and demand seen in recent years will continue over the projection period (2015-2024.)”