Over the past few months there have been several meetings, E-mails, phone calls and letters between, the BC Automotive Training Standards Organization (ATSO the governing body for the Automotive apprenticeship programs), BC Industry Training Organization(ITA the governing body for all BC Trades), ARA (Automotive Retailers Association), office of the Minister of Jobs and Tourism Pat Bell Northern BC AST Sub-Committee members ( independent shop owners and college instructors), individual Automotive chairs from some BC colleges, the CIA Association, Building Trades Canada and the BCATTA Group ( British Columbia Association of Trades and Technical Administrators) (college chairs).


AST- Automotive Service Technician

RFC - Recommendation for Certification

C of Q – Certificate of Qualification

ATSO - Automotive Training Standards Organization

ITA – Industry Training Authority

ITO – Industry Training Organization

BCATTA – British Columbia Association of Trades and Technical Administrators

ARA – Automotive Retailers





We have a significant division of position between the bodies listed in RED and those that are not.

The Red group believe that the Apprenticeship model but in place in 2008/2009 for BC is working the way it is. The rest believe that the model is broken and at the very least needs extreme repair.

While many frustrated calls for action, explanation and transparency have been requested from the ITA and ATSO over the past 4 years things have changed in the past few months because the provincial government has now stepped in. There have now been meetings in the past few months that have help define the problems and positions and a great deal of activity has been generated. As would be expected their is a great deal of resistance to change but the more that is revealed and the more informed parties are heard from the better the chances are that we will have an improved AST apprentice ship program in BC.

Recent Key Meetings

Pat Bell Minister of Jobs and Tourism & Northern Sub Committee Feb 25 in Prince George Meeting to request government intervention to protect the future of AST apprentices, independent shops and the northern colleges from ITA & ATSO management of the AST apprenticeship program. Action expected in May!

ITA Staff & AST Sub-Committee Meeting - April 12 in Prince George Meeting to request transparency of ATSO’s dealer dominated board structure, proposed cuts in college funding, who was consulted to develop progressive accreditation plus a request for a time line for recognition of BCATTA and Sub-committee recommendations.

ITA -Lloyd Stamm, CIAA – Art Wilderman, ARA -Rene Young and CIAA/ARA-Ronald Tremblay- April 25th Vancouver Meeting to better understand ASTO policy compared to independent shop owner and journeyperson prospective.

ATSO & College Instructors May 23rd Vancouver

A key meeting with ATSO Board and Staff for May 22nd was Cancel but has been rescheduled for June 19th

A Large meeting was help in Prince George June 19th made up of 35 local shop people, about half the ATSO board, two ITA, MLA Constituancy Assistant, CIAA and ARA members.

    • Commitment to change    
  • Apprentice advancing apprentice to Journey person only
  • College of New Caledonia Prince George to get Super school support??
  • ATSO will take over the paper work for apprentice progress and hours tracking (we are yet sure if this a good think)
  • ATSO would not consider changing their Board structure
  • No interest shown in changing the progressive accreditation model
  • Explanation offered on the different treatment of some Branded techs hours required to write exams but no action to change that program
  • On the good side techs will be allowed to write their exams with 1000 hrs but can not receive their level C of Q until the have 1500 hours per level (a good idea given the current of tracking hours issues)
  •  Minister Pat Bell meeting July 9th With PG Group
  • Charlotte Groot, Constituency Assistant to Minister Pat Bell was at the June 19th meeting and validated our point of   view that the structure of the ATSO board should be more balance to reflect the industry as a whole.
  • Pat was leaving that day to speak with a senior ITA Board member and was not pleased that more had not been done to correct issues with ATSO issues.

Key Issues

  1. a)Segregation of the trade with the first 3 levels receiving a certificate of qualification.
  • We see the progressive accreditation model as diminishing the attractiveness of our trade to students, diminishing the prestige of AST journeypersons thus increasing the potential for fewer students to complete the 4 levels. The perceived pride and integrity of the Journeypersons in the trade is one of the most significant factors influencing young people in there decision to pick an AST program as a career path. The aftermarket is looking for a level 4 who is trained in everything. By encouraging lower level exit points in the trade we are breaking the cycle of apprentice to journeyperson replacement.
  • Employers are committing to, only one level advancement, instead of 4 for the apprentice. This further enables an attitude of some employers to hold an apprentice back in order to secure a less expensive work force which results in fewer journeypersons emerging from the apprenticeship program to replace a rapidly retiring generation of technicians. This increases the oppression of our people and negatively impacts the tax revenue of the government.
  • Level one, level two and level three are currently enabled to sign of on the advancement of any other apprentice lower in level up to the same level as themselves. We feel only a journey person should hold that power. (a promise to correct this was made June 19th)
  1. b)ATSO Representation

The Board of Directors of the ATSO is a group of intelligent, concerned and committed individuals primarily from one perspective of the automotive industry. What is lacking is representation form all the stakeholders in the future of the AST programs. Independent shops still do half the work we should be represented on the board accordingly as should the regional instructors.


  1. c)College AST Program Closures

We have a dramatic drop in 3rd and 4th year apprentices in northern colleges!

The withdrawal of funding for northern colleges will be crippling to our northern shops due to the lack of potential apprentices coming out of northern communities. We already have a crisis situation north of the lower mainland were availability to Journeyperson is concerned. Much more energy needs to be invested in making the trade an attractive, simple choice for students not an obstacle course to opportunity. Again all stakeholders need to be part of the solutions.


  1. d)Fair and Equitable Treatment of Apprentices

With in the current system there has been a double standard set for exam writing criteria. In some of the OEM Branded AST programs students are permitted to write exams before they have achieved the hours required by a standard Trade AST student.

A fair and equitable balance must be struck and a more efficient and timely policy established to track apprentice exam qualifying hours.

The are several other administrative issues on the table that would take several more pages to detail but if you have any topic on the apprenticeship program you would like to talk about please call or e-mail your questions.

For over four years almost nothing has happened but now that government is in the mix things are happening. . We need your help to keep government in this process.


Art Wilderman

Executive Director

Canadian Independent

Automotive Association

403 225-9578

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