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How to Encourage More Women to Join the Auto Body Repair Industry

Over the past five years, women have made up an average of 13.32% of new graduates in auto body repair programs. Yet they account for only 2.5% of all certified auto body repairers in Quebec. The auto body repair industry is still predominantly male, but this could change.

There are signs, including various studies and new workplace practices, that the industry is looking to recruit more women. AIA Canada’s Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange Needs Assessment Report and the study on the needs and obstacles of women and employers in relation to employment conditions and work-life balance released by CSMO-Auto suggest ways to help attract and retain women. Recommendations include making changes to the corporate culture to make it more inclusive and educating employees about the benefits of having more women in the workplace. According to Milèna Daisy Lévesque, controller at CarrXpert Jacques Lévesque, it is easier to integrate and retain a female employee when there are already other women on the team. In this way, gender diversity in the workplace encourages a more inclusive corporate culture.

The AIA and CSMO-Auto studies also report that promoting jobs in a more representative way can help educate the public and attract future workers. Milèna Daisy Lévesque believes that the way in which the industry is presented to the public has an impact on the recruitment of new workers, including women. Lévesque suggests highlighting some lesser-known aspects of auto body repair that are likely to attract more women to the industry. These include detail-oriented work, access to the latest technology, and a clean, bright, well-organized work environment. Chantal Poliquin, manager of the Spinelli Pierrefonds-Roxboro auto body repair centre, underlines the importance of promoting auto body repair jobs as early as high school. She believes that the industry should have both men and women serve as spokespeople to show students, especially girls, that there are many auto body repair jobs that may be right for them. Poliquin also points out that certain qualities required to work in the auto body repair industry, such as patience, attention to detail, attentiveness, and communication skills, are likely to appeal to women.

Work-life balance is another way to attract more women to the industry. CSMO-Auto considers it a major competitive advantage in attracting and retaining women. Work-life balance measures, which are usually inexpensive, can include swapping work schedules, flexible hours, compressed work weeks, time banking, etc. Lévesque agrees, adding that while women appreciate these measures, so do men and parents in general. She says that if we “consider the needs of the individual, regardless of gender, then the entire industry will reap the benefits.”