The auto industry has been considered to be a male-dominated industry for decades. From the production line to auto service to dealerships, the automotive sector was primarily a man’s world – however, the industry is changing and evolving.
Thanks in part to a combination of provincial initiatives and programs, more women are entering trades than ever before, but even so, that number is stark in comparison to the number of men currently working in trades.
According to a report released by Statistics Canada in 2012, women were under represented in the most in-demand trades, accounting for only 14.2 per cent of enrolments in apprenticeship programs.
Province-wide, we are anticipating a huge shortage in the number of skilled workers in the coming years, and having more women entering careers in trades could go a long way in addressing this problem.
In British Columbia alone, one million job openings are forecasted for the year 2025, and 43 per cent of those jobs will require trades and technical training. With such a huge demand for skilled labourers within the next decade, many of these industries can’t flourish without more workers – the auto industry included.
Over 45,000 British Columbians are employed in B.C.’s automotive sector whether it is in technical trades, customer service or management positions. The reality for this sector is that the current average age for employees is 55-years-old, meaning that within the next ten years, the majority will be retiring.
In fact, in B.C’s automotive industry, a 30 per cent turnover rate is forecasted within the next decade, which will open up 20,000 new career opportunities across the board for British Columbians.
For men and women alike, a career in the auto industry offers a wide-range of opportunities. Today, automotive careers available across the province of B.C. include mechanics, installation technicians, sales people, customer service professionals, accountants, business administrators and managers, just to name a few! The truth is, these are high paying, skilled jobs offering lucrative benefits and job security, that need to be filled by great people.
International Women’s Day was celebrated around the world just a couple of days ago, and according to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap isn’t expected to close until the year 2186, which is 170 years overdue.
Despite this, there are some inspiring examples of women leaders in the automotive industry, from management to design and racing. Take for example, Mary Barra, the CEO and President of one of the largest automakers in the world, General Motors Company, and the first female to hold this position. Or the industry’s first female supercar design lead, Michelle Christenson, who penned the design of the 2016 Acura NSX. And we can’t forget Danika Patrick, NASCAR’s most successful and famous female driver. These are only a few examples and there’s still much more to do to end the gender gap.
So what can we do as British Columbians to help women enter into careers in the automotive sector?
We can collectively encourage interested women to consider choosing a career in trades. We can take the initiative to create inclusive work cultures to accelerate gender parity, and we can eliminate workplace sexism.
If you’re interested in a career in the auto industry, you can visit the Vancouver International Auto Show, held March 28 to April 2, or you can also get more information online at: www.bcautocareers.ca
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].