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Auto tech students shine spotlight on automotive careers

by Frank Romeo
This post originally appeared on the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association website ( and the Toronto Star

For the past 11 years, automotive tech students from high schools in and around Toronto have tested their knowledge and mechanical skills in a competition at the Canadian International AutoShow.

The students compete for prizes, scholarships, tools and the opportunity to represent their schools and the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) at the National Automotive Technology Competition at the New York International AutoShow in April.

In 2008, a team from Central Technical School defeated all of the U.S. teams and won top prize, and a Northern Heights Secondary School team placed second in 2009.

These competitions are exciting for the participating students, teachers, schools, and for the automotive industry in Canada. Students get to showcase their skills and help to raise the profile of automotive technicians as a potential career choice.

The TADA is a strong advocate of education and promoting awareness of automotive careers. Our association provides numerous apprenticeship awards and scholarships to students at Centennial College and the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie.

The TADA has long-standing partnerships with both post-secondary institutions in providing not only awards and scholarships, but co-op apprenticeship, mentoring and work experience opportunities as well.

Students who graduate from Centennial’s Co-op Apprenticeship program are qualified to work in many areas of a dealership, including automotive service technicians, service writers/advisors, service, collision and/or parts managers, and other automotive related specialists.

This apprenticeship co-op program takes two years to complete and combines in-class sessions at Centennial’s Ashtonbee Campus with field experience. The Ashtonbee Campus, the largest transportation training centre in Ontario, recently announced an ambitious $38 million campus renewal project to expand and modernize its facilities.

The TADA is also a partner with the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie, which offers two unique automotive business programs. The Automotive Business (two year diploma) program prepares students to work in various capacities at new car dealerships, and in the aftermarket and other sectors of the industry. The program includes two paid co-op work placements to help students gain hands-on work experience, and networking opportunities.

The Bachelor of Business Automotive Management (four year co-op degree) program prepares students for a broad range of professional disciplines in management, aftermarket, marketing or entrepreneurial endeavours in many sectors of the automotive industry.

Although the TADA has formed partnerships with Centennial College and the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College, there are other automotive courses available at post-secondary schools throughout Ontario (

The auto industry is ripe with opportunities for people who are willing to work hard and commit themselves; it offers challenging, well-paying jobs in a variety of disciplines with excellent opportunities for advancement.

I’ve long maintained that it’s important for provincial governments and post-secondary schools to help promote the auto sector as a viable career option for students. But parents also play a role in preparing and guiding their children’s future career path.

It’s commonplace for parents to want the best career options for their children. Steering them towards traditional pursuits such as medicine, law, engineering and teaching can be very rewarding. Today’s automotive careers offer many rewarding opportunities as well. Canada has a strong, robust automotive sector with unlimited opportunities for specialized employment in various disciplines.

I would encourage parents to research the subject and to include the auto sector when discussing career choices with their children. If you’re already working in the industry and want to advance to the next level, many educational /career opportunities exist.

The high school students competing in the tech competition at the AutoShow this week provide a glimpse of the level of the education, skill, excitement and promise that the auto sector offers.

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