Published on Friday, 27 May 2011
As more and more automotive sales managers, salespeople, technicians, and service advisors retire over the coming years, new car dealerships will be challenged to find the right individuals to fill those positions.
One of the secondary educational institutions that is doing an exceptional job in preparing young people for careers in the automotive sector is the Canadian Automotive Institute (CAI) at Georgian College in Barrie.
Since it was founded in 1985, CAI has produced thousands of graduates who have gone to pursue successful careers in the automotive retail, aftermarket and/or corporate sectors. CAI has a 90 per cent-plus graduate placement rate for the past 25 years.
The TADA, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, along with corporate manufacturers, retailers, aftermarket businesses and Georgian College all helped to launch CAI.
I am encouraged by the students who graduate from CAI's degree and diploma programs each year, and I'm also encouraged by the annual Georgian College Auto Show, which is billed as the "largest outdoor, student-run auto show in North America." What's remarkable about the show is that it's produced entirely by the CAI students.
An Auto Show committee, consisting of five CAI students and five Georgian College staff, work for eight months to organize the Auto Show. Together, they handle all aspects of planning and production including all media and public relations, finance, recruitment, securing sponsorships from the automotive industry, ensuring that all safety and by-law regulations are met, contacting auto dealers, suppliers and vendors to arrange for their participation.
For three days, the students who organize this show represent the Canadian automotive industry and serve as ambassadors for the industry and CAI. Students serve as customer service reps and provide information on the latest cars and light duty trucks, but they do not sell. This is a relaxed, sales-free environment.
Normally the Georgian Auto Show is held in the fall, but this year the date has been moved forward to June 3rd, 4th and 5th. Student organizers say that move will allow them to make better use of space on college property. They also hope to take advantage of warmer weather.
The theme for this year is "Change, Adapt, Imagine," and show organizers are looking forward to the new season, adapting to the change, and imagining the possibilities it will present for them.
The Georgian College Auto Show attracts 20,000-plus visitors each year from across southern Ontario. Organized by students attending Georgian's CAI at the Barrie Campus, the show has something for everyone — from the classic car fan, to the high-powered sports car enthusiast, to the couple looking for the ideal new family vehicle.
Two professional drivers will be on hand to spin brave participants around a wet Pfaff Porsche Test Track in Porsche 911s, for a small donation to charity. The young and young-at-heart will also enjoy KidZone, an interactive entertainment area for children and families. The show will also feature classic cars, informative car care clinics, live music and exotics.
Visitors can meet professional race car driver Kyle Marcelli who will be signing autographs at special times throughout the weekend. An auction, featuring items donated by car manufacturers and local businesses, will also be held on June 5 at 1 p.m.
The show opens Friday, June 3, with new extended hours from 12 to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily admission is $7 for adults and free for kids 12 and younger.
A special weekend rate of $15/person has also been added this year. Parking is included with admission. For more information and detailed times on all the events, visit www.georgiancollegeautoshow.ca.
The show even has its own Facebook page, where fans can share stories and pictures leading up to, and after, the show.