The Installation, Maintenance and Repair (IMR) Sector Council is led by dedicated champions from industry, education and the workforce who collectively address the human resources challenges in the consumer electronics and appliance installation, maintenance and repair service industry. IMR is a self-funded, not-for-profit organization.
IMR is one of five councils operating under the Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) banner. This inclusion allows IMR to learn from, and leverage, the capabilities of EFC in support of our membership, particularly as it relates to the servicing and repair of residential household appliances and consumer electronics.
• Product Distributors and/or Retailers
• Extended Warranty Companies
• Parts Distributors
• Product Installers, Maintenance and/or Repair Service Companies
As an industry Sector Council, we address key strategic workforce issues and workforce planning initiatives, such as human resources challenges facing this sector, including:
• an aging workforce
• issues related to recruiting and retaining human resources
• a lack of awareness of career opportunities
• a limited number of entry-level and upgrade training programs
• outdated training and occupational standards
• the pace of change in technology and products
• the changing skills profiles required by new entrants
Industry Challenges & Trends
The Appliance Service Technician industry is comprised of an aging workforce with over 50 percent of technicians over the age of 50, and over 30 percent of technicians over the age of 60.
Approximately 70 percent of the industry is made up of 1 to 3 person shops, with larger regional and national companies making up the difference.
Retirements are starting to have an impact on the amount of available service technicians in many markets in Canada, with the largest stress being felt in the rural and mid-sized markets.
The products being serviced are becoming more complicated, particularly with the introduction of electronic circuit boards and other electronics devices. This is placing much more challenge on a technician’s ability to effectively diagnose product.
Product warranties have also been significantly reduced over the past five years, and product price-points are also having an impact on the industry. Product prices have become polarized to be either expensive high-end or lower budget prices, with little mid-level pricing in place. With escalating costs of labour, parts and vehicle expenses, customers with budget products are less likely to repair versus replacing their product.
As well, environmental issues are expected to become much more significant in the industry. The technician workforce will have to play an increasingly active role in the industry, as government and industry partners work to reduce waste and ensure the repair processes do not have any negative environmental impacts. Training and standards have become a real priority.
As is often the case, these industry issues offer significant opportunity. IMR has been working hard within the industry to bring together educational programs for entry-level technicians, upgrade training events as well as supporting the industry in working through regulatory or industry issues. Technicians in this industry have a great working environment, opportunities to work for both large and small companies as well as an opportunity to have their own business. The industry offers competitive income earning opportunities, flexible working hours, and attractive working conditions. Entry-level training programs are particularly appealing to adults in career transition based on the time required, i.e. 20-30 weeks leading to an early return to favourable income-producing employment.
Being part of IMR allows those involved with the industry to shape its future and ensure the health of this important industry. The following IMR focus areas are beginning to shape the trade in Canada.
Entry-level Training Programs
Many provinces in Canadahave not offered an entry-level appliance training programs for years.
Albertaand British Columbia have ongoing entry-level programs. Kwantlen College in particular, with the support of the B.C. industry, is a long-standing school well recognized for outfitting new technicians with the skills they need to be successful in the industry. IMR launched a program in Ontario in April 2009 that has brought over 35 technicians into the market since that time, and is continuing to support the industry. IMR also worked in Manitoba on a pilot program that brought 15 technicians into the Manitoba market and is working hard to bring this program to life on an ongoing basis.
Technician Service Schools
IMR has held multiple training events in the last two years. These events were held in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary with over 150 technicians participating. Our recent technician surveys suggest most technicians struggle to gain access to training, technical support and information from manufacturers. The IMR Service schools are some of the only opportunities for technicians to participate in hands-on manufacturer training in Canada. These events have been supported by Electrolux, Mabe, Bosch and Samsung. IMR is working hard to put more of these events in place for the spring of 2011.
IMR has been very active in many provinces in Canada to increase awareness of the industry and ensure all areas are being supported. IMR has been actively:
• Working with the Ministry of Labour in Manitoba to support the Limited Electrician Licensing Requirements;
• Working with the Electrical Safety Authority to clarify the regulatory issues withinOntario;
• Supporting the updating of the Ontario Apprenticeship Training Standard;
• Meeting with the Alberta Provincial Advisory Committee to understand issues within the province;
• Participating on the Provincial Advisory Board in Ontario to support provincial issues;
• Participating in the updating of the Red Seal Program;
• Attending ongoing meetings with HRSDC; and
• Partnering with the Alliance of Sector Councils in Ottawa, supported by 34 industry sector councils across Canada representing over 80 of the workforce inCanada.
IMR is always looking for new members that are willing to actively participate within the industry to ensure it remains healthy and viable for years to come. Visit us at www.imrsectorcouncil.com for more information.