Car deal­ers a key part of B.C.’s work­force

The Province - - DRIVING - Blair Qua­ley IN­DUS­TRY IN­SIDER

Ev­ery year on the third week of Oc­to­ber, Cana­di­ans cel­e­brate small busi­nesses, their achieve­ments and the in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­ni­ties they serve. Ninety-eight per cent of all busi­nesses in Bri­tish Columbia are small busi­nesses, in to­tal em­ploy­ing over one mil­lion peo­ple.

B.C.’s new car deal­ers are part of the fab­ric of the more than 55 com­mu­ni­ties where our 385 mem­bers have deal­er­ships. From em­ploy­ment, to eco­nomic spinoff, to charitable con­tri­bu­tions, our mem­bers are ac­tive ev­ery day of the year in ev­ery cor­ner of the prov­ince. The ma­jor­ity of those news car deal­ers are clas­si­fied as small busi­nesses, mean­ing that they em­ploy less than 50 peo­ple. Com­bined, those mem­bers di­rectly and in­di­rectly em­ploy more than 36,000 peo­ple in this prov­ince in a wide va­ri­ety of jobs.

Small busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs in Canada face nu­mer­ous chal­lenges, but none more press­ing than the short­age of skilled labour. To­day’s auto in­dus­try work­force re­quires a wide va­ri­ety of skills, and there are huge ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties for those look­ing for jobs in a sta­ble, grow­ing in­dus­try. Ex­pan­sion, com­bined with a cur­rent work­force where 47 per cent of the in­dus­try will be re­tir­ing within 10 years, means big op­por­tu­nity for the next gen­er­a­tion of em­ploy­ees.

With nearly half of the sec­tor’s work­force an­tic­i­pated to re­tire over the next decade, this means that within the next 10 years, there will be sub­stan­tial in­creases in the num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties at var­i­ous small, medium and large deal­er­ships across Bri­tish Columbia. Ap­prox­i­mately 20,000 new job po­si­tions will be open­ing up across the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor, from po­si­tions in trades, such as au­to­mo­tive me­chan­ics to po­si­tions in fi­nance, mar­ket­ing, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and hu­man re­sources.

But deal­ers pro­vide more than just new ve­hi­cles and job op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bri­tish Columbians. Deal­ers, es­pe­cially small new car deal­ers, often have deep roots, with com­mu­nity ties an­chor­ing them to their home­towns.

A re­cent ex­am­ple of the close con­nec­tions our mem­bers have with their com­mu­ni­ties came this past sum­mer when wild­fires dev­as­tated 100 Mile House, Wil­liams Lake and other towns in the In­te­rior. The New Car Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of B.C. cre­ated a fire re­lief fund to as­sist dealer em­ploy­ees af­fected by the evac­u­a­tions.

In another ex­am­ple, var­i­ous small deal­ers and ser­vice shops on Van­cou­ver Is­land con­trib­uted over $300,000 to the Camo­sun Foun­da­tion’s TRADE­mark for Ex­cel­lence fundrais­ing cam­paign for the col­lege’s new Trades Ed­u­ca­tion and In­no­va­tion Com­plex. This gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion not only aided stu­dents look­ing to learn, but also en­sured that the em­ploy­ees of the fu­ture are given the best tools avail­able to pre­pare them for af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

The BDC Small Busi­ness Week be­gan in the Fraser Val­ley as a week of ac­tiv­i­ties for en­trepreneurs al­most forty years ago and has spread across the coun­try since then. The event marks an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to learn from other busi­ness ex­perts through var­i­ous con­fer­ences, work­shops and lun­cheons.

Small Busi­ness Week runs Oct. 15-21 and brings to­gether not only busi­nesses, but also their sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties as well to hon­our their achieve­ments. Small deal­ers across the prov­ince have given back through var­i­ous fundrais­ing cam­paigns and by sup­port­ing lo­cal ini­tia­tives.

Small busi­nesses are in­valu­able to not only Bri­tish Columbia’s eco­nomic health, but to its so­cial well be­ing as well. Deal­er­ships are im­por­tant con­trib­u­tors and lead­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties, and while many of these deal­er­ships may be small busi­nesses, they have cre­ated big and last­ing im­pacts cru­cial to the fab­ric of their com­mu­ni­ties.

Blair Qua­ley is Pres­i­dent and CEO of the New Car Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of BC. You can email him at bqua­ley@new­cardeal­

Car deal­ers em­ploy thou­sands of peo­ple in a va­ri­ety of oc­cu­pa­tions.

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