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Collision Labour Shortages

In late October 2002 ASRA surveyed the collision industry to determine the extent of the technician shortage. One hundred and six shops, representing almost three-quarters of the industry capacity responded to the survey.

-Only twelve shops did not need any technicians!

-Most reported being several employees short.

-Several shops expressed dissatisfaction with the qualifications of the employees that they presently employ.

If the following qualified workers walked into your office today and were willing to work for you at prevailing wages, would you hire them?

The 106 shops that responded indicated they needed:






Incredibly, 106 shops have work for 457 individuals they cannot find!

ASRA will continue to make sure that Insurance Claims Managers and all levels of the Industry

are aware of how critical the Body technician shortage is!


Collision Apprenticeship Changes

Introduction of Auto Body Prepper Craft!

Apprenticeship has created a third craft within the Auto Body Trade: Preppers.

Definition: Auto body preppers are responsible for the restorations of anti-corrosion treatments, substrate identification, surface preparation, undercoat product mixing and application. Auto body preppers are involved throughout the collision repair process, often beginning with the application of anti-corrosion compounds while the vehicle is still mounted on the frame repair equipment. They also remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, deck lids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior components.

The term of apprenticeship for an auto body prepper is 2 years, including a minimum of 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks of technical training in the first year and 1800 hours of on-the-job training in the second year.

An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Prepper branch of the trade or holds a related journeyman certificate and has the employer's consent, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship.

A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program.

To sign up your preppers, or for more information contact: Tony Lovell, Trades Qualification Inspector in Edmonton at 780-422-6935 or Bill Nyerod, Trades Qual. Inspector in Calgary at 403-297-6457.



An Edmonton shop and an unlicensed person working as a bodyman were each fined $2500 plus court costs of $500 for contempt of court when they ignored an order to comply with the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

The auto body and auto service trades are compulsory trades. The only people who can do auto body or auto service work as defined by the Auto Body Technician Trade Regulation and the Automotive Service Technician Trade Regulation are licensed journeymen and apprentices. The regulations also mandate a one-to-one ratio of journeymen to apprentices.

Alberta Apprenticeship administers these acts. Traditionally they have focused on making sure that shops comply with the regulation. Indeed, Apprenticeship often goes out of their way to accommodate a shop and create a way for them to be in compliance. Court action is rare, because of Apprenticeship’s willingness to assist shops in compliance.

In this case, the shop ignored numerous opportunities to end their non-compliance. This court order indicates that shops that refuse to get into compliance can face serious consequences.


ASRA Collision Industry Survey Results...

Evidence of the Pressure on the Collision Industry.

Victor Marciano, Executive Director

Welcome to a late edition of PARTS & Pieces, the ASRA newsletter. In the last issue of PARTS & Pieces I asked for the industry’s assistance in conducting a survey on the number of collision shops in Alberta. Thank you for coming through!!! I asked:

"How many collision shops are there in the province?" One government department

told me 340, another 840, still another 649, while the Internet phone directories

told me 770 ?!?…

ASRA’s focus for 2002 was to create the infrastructure to properly survey the collision industry. We received a very small summer student grant and we put Pam Jones to work assembling a complete and accurate database of our industry. This database will be used to conduct more thorough surveys of the industry. The long-term goal is to develop accurate and useful information about our industry, that ASRA members and other stakeholders can use for business planning.

First, I must thank the industry for their participation. ASRA identified over 700 potential participants who were contacted by phone or fax and asked to complete a short one-page survey. Over 450 shops answered the survey! Thank you! This is spectacular participation and it has provided us with some excellent data.

As of August 20, 2002 there were 582 collision shops in Alberta (133 in Calgary, 126 in Edmonton, 146 in rural southern Alberta, and 177 in rural northern Alberta). Incredibly there were 84 collision shops that had a business license or were listed in the phone book but were no longer in business! That’s almost 13% of the industry that had gone out of business in the previous 15 months!

The following is a summary of our findings. We correlated this information by confirming our extrapolated number of Apprentices with Alberta Apprenticeship’s numbers—they matched up almost exactly!

- Number of Body Shops in business in Alberta- 582
Includes 12 Boyds, 5 Herbers, 2 Concours, 2 Coachworks, 2 Peterson, 2 JD, 2 Jaehns, 2 Apex, 2 Empire, 2 Cosmos, 3 Big Rig, and 7 MAACO’s, 10 pure restoration shops and all MDA bodyshops.

- 133 in Calgary (23%)
- 126 in Edmonton (22%)
- 146 in Southern Alberta (25%)
- 177 in Northern Alberta (30%)
- Shops which are in the phonebook or have an AMVIC license but are out of business- 84
- Estimated total number of employees in collision industry in Alberta- 3805
- Estimated total number of collision apprentices in province- 559
- Percentage of shops that reported that they have apprentices working for them- 56%
- Percentage of Shops with 2 or fewer employees- 25%
- Percentage of Shops with 4 or fewer employees- 47%
- Percentage of Shops with Labour rates of 42$/hr or less- 4%
- Percentage of Shops with Labour rates of 46$/hr or less- 51%
- Percentage of Shops with Labour rates of 50$/hr or more- 13%
- Percentage of Shops <$400,000 in gross annual sales- 44%
- Percentage of Shops >$1,000,000 in gross annual sales- 24.5%
- Percentage of Shops >$1,500,000 in gross annual sales- 11%

In this PARTS & Pieces you will find a survey undertaken by ASRA: Collision Labour Shortages. Because of our improved database this years skills shortage survey has information from over 105 shops, a 144% increase in participation over last years 43 shops.

For 2003 we will focus on creating a comprehensive database of the mechanical repair industry. "How many mechanical repair businesses are there?" Estimates range from 1700 to +3800! "Average wage of service technicians?" No firm answer. "Average posted labour rates?" No firm answer. So when you get that call or fax from the ASRA office this summer, please help out and help put your association in a better position to help you!


Tuition Fees are Increasing for Alberta collision repair apprenticeship

To meet the rising costs of providing quality technical training for a growing number of apprentices, tuition fees for technical training are being increased for the first time since 1999. For classes beginning in August 2003 to July 2004, tuition fees will be $65.65 per week ($525 for 8 weeks of technical training). Fees will then increase over the three years after that, as follows:

2004/2005 – $81.25 per week ($650 for 8 weeks)

2005/2006 – $96.88 per week ($775 for 8 weeks)

2006/2007 – $112.50 per week ($900 for 8 weeks)

After 2006/2007, tuition fees for apprentices will be adjusted every year by the annual average change in the Alberta consumer price index (CPI) plus two percent. CPI is a measure of the cost of living. The average annual change in the CPI over the last ten years has been two percent. Apprentices, employers and institutions that deliver apprenticeship technical training were involved in discussions on these upcoming changes to apprenticeship tuition fees, and how they are set. The Alberta Government and the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board are fully committed to offering quality training that is accessible for all Alberta apprentices.

Grants are Available

Apprentices who can demonstrate need may qualify for grants from the Skills Development Program of Alberta Human Resources and Employment to help pay for tuition, books, supplies and living expenses. Grants do NOT have to be repaid.

More Information

More information about tuition fees, the new apprentice tuition fee policy, or financial assistance for apprentices is attached, or visit, or contact the local apprenticeship and industry training office.



The Calgary Police Service is seeking the media's assistance in helping to identify the owners of recently recovered stolen automobiles and automobile parts. The stolen items
were recovered when the Calgary Police Service's Auto Theft Unit uncovered the largest chop shop known to be operating in Calgary this year.

On October 2, 2001, the Calgary Police Service's Auto Theft Unit executed a search warrant on Greg's Automotive repair shop, located at 8812 - 44 Street S.E., in connection with a month long investigation into stolen Chevrolet Cavaliers and Pontiac SunFires. "In executing the search warrant, investigators were able to identify parts from seven stolen
SunFires and one Cavalier. This is the largest chop shop uncovered in Calgary this year," said Auto Theft Unit Acting Staff Sergeant Ken Marchant. "The vehicles were stolen from
locations throughout Calgary and most were being completely dismantled for parts." Numerous SunFire and Cavalier body parts and two other vehicles of different makes were also found. Investigators, however, cannot positively identify the owners of these vehicles and parts.

"Responding to the concerns of Calgarians, one of the Auto Theft Unit's top priorities is identifying and targeting these types of illegal operations," said Marchant. "The good
news is that vehicle thefts have decreased over the last three years and that more than 80 per cent of stolen vehicles are recovered within 72 hours. Unfortunately, the number of
vehicles not recovered has also increased during the same time period. This means these vehicles are being dismantled, renumbered or shipped out of the country. In the end, this
costs the insurance industry millions of dollars, and these costs are eventually passed down to the consumer."

Gregory John Harness, 53, and Peter David Banks, 26, are charged with possession of stolen property.

The Auto Theft Unit is asking anyone who has purchased a vehicle from Harness or Banks since June 2001, to call Detective Bob Semple or Detective Jim Jones of the Auto Theft
Unit at 206-8733.

Further investigations into the case are continuing.


Auto Body Technician

Employment Outlook: Average occupational growth
Physical Requirements: Lifting between 11 & 25 kg (approximately 25 to 55 lbs)


Auto body technicians repair and/or replace damaged motor vehicle structures, body parts, and interior/exterior finishes. They may work primarily on structural repairs or refinishing, or do both types of work.


In general, auto body technicians:

prepare or review motor vehicle repair estimate reports, use frame machines to straighten bent frames and unitized bodies, remove badly damaged sections of vehicles (e.g. aprons, roof and rear body panels) and weld in new sections, work out minor damage in body panels, fenders, skirting and sheet metal trim, and weld torn metal, cover the bumpers, windows and trim with masking tape and paper, apply primer with a spray gun, clean the surface and apply paint, repair and/or replace interior components such as instrument panels, seat frame assemblies, carpets and floorboard insulation, trim panels and mouldings, and inspect vehicles for dimensional accuracy and test drive them to ensure proper alignment and handling.

Auto body technicians may specialize in making collision repairs or in refinishing, or work in both branches of the trade.

Collision specialists are involved in damage appraisal, frame and unibody structural repair, body sheet metal work, plastic repair, component replacement and alignment. In the past, they used heavy frame machines and simple gauges to repair heavy collision damage. Today, they rely on precise factory specification charts and use sophisticated measuring and repair systems to restore damaged vehicles.

In particular, collision specialists

restore the structural integrity of damaged vehicles by cutting away damaged components and welding in new or recycled replacements, ensure that suspension and steering components are accurately aligned, ensure that passenger protection systems function properly, remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, decklids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior components, and verify dimensional accuracy.

Refinishing specialists are involved in damage appraisal, surface preparation, minor damage repair, masking, colour matching, priming and top coating.

In particular, refinishing specialists

apply or restore anti-corrosion treatments (often while the vehicle is still mounted on frame repair equipment),
identify and remove layers of sub-coatings by using abrasives or chemicals,
match the complex colour formulations created by automobile manufacturers, and
apply refinish products in the correct sequence, ensuring chemical compatibility, adhesion and durability.

Working Conditions

Auto body technicians generally work a 40-hour, five-day week with occasional overtime required. They work indoors in a noisy, sometimes dusty, environment. Although most shops are well ventilated, the work involves exposure to dust and fumes. There is always some risk of injury involved in working with sharp or hot metals, welders and power tools. Auto body technicians may be required to lift parts and equipment weighing up to 25 kilograms.

Skills, Interests, Values
Auto body technicians need the following characteristics:

- manual dexterity,
- creativity, patience and an eye for detail,
- good colour vision,
- an interest in staying current with the annual changes manufacturers make in plastics, - - - electronics, supplemental restraints and paints,
- good customer services skills, and
- a commitment to safe work habits.

They should enjoy using tools and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, following routine procedures, and repairing damaged auto body components.

Education Requirements [click here for BC requirements]

In Alberta, the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act requires that anyone working in this trade be a certified journeyman or a registered apprentice. To enter the Auto Body Technician apprenticeship program, applicants must have a minimum of Grade 10 education or equivalent (or pass an entrance exam), and find an appropriate employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

While still in high school, students can begin an apprenticeship program and earn high school credits at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). After high school graduation, RAP apprentices may complete their apprenticeship programs as full-time apprentices.

To register in the apprenticeship program, the apprentice and the employer complete an application form together and submit it to the closest Apprenticeship and Industry Training office. Once the application is approved, a contract is drawn up and signed by the apprentice and the employer.

The term of apprenticeship is different for each branch of the trade.

The term for collision is four years (four 12-month periods with a minimum of 1600 hours of employment in each of the first two periods and 1500 hours of employment in each of the third and fourth periods). In addition to the on-the-job training, the term requires six weeks of classroom training in the first and second periods and eight weeks of classroom training in the third period.
The term for refinishing is three years (three 12-month periods with a minimum of 1600 hours of employment each of the first two periods and 1700 hours of employment in the third period). In addition to the on-the-job training, the term requires six weeks of classroom training in the first and second periods and four weeks of classroom training in the third period.
The term for collision and refinishing is four years (four 12-month periods with a minimum of 1600 hours of employment in each of the first two periods, 1500 hours in the third period and 1700 hours of employment in the fourth period). In addition to the on-the-job training, the term requires six weeks of classroom training in the first and second periods, eight weeks in the third period and four weeks of classroom training in the fourth period.

The classroom training for the first and second periods is common for all branches of the trade. Applicants who have successfully completed related courses of study or work experience may be eligible for advanced standing in the apprenticeship program.

The classroom training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently being offered at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary. When apprentices attend training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies. Human Resources Development Canada may provide employment insurance benefits to apprentices attending classroom training. For more detailed information, contact your local Human Resources Development Canada office.

After successfully completing the required examinations and hours of employment, an apprentice is awarded an Alberta Journeyman Certificate. Those who pass an approved interprovincial exam qualify for the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal which means their trade qualifications are recognized throughout most of Canada.

Prospective auto body technicians may take a one-year Auto Body Repair certificate program offered by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton prior to finding employment and becoming apprentices. The program entrance requirement is completion of English 10 or 13, Math 10 or 13 and a Grade 10 science.

Once the apprenticeship program is completed, auto body technicians need to keep up to date with new technologies and industry advancements. Journeyman Update Courses are offered at technical institutes and through private training organizations such as I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair).

Employment and Advancement

Auto body technicians are employed by auto body repair shops, automobile and truck dealerships, custom shops and sometimes by trucking companies and buslines.

Experienced auto body technicians may advance to supervisory positions, start their own businesses or become automobile damage appraisers for insurance companies. With additional training, they can transfer their skills to related occupations such as sheet metal worker, aircraft technician, motorcycle mechanic or automotive service technician.

For the foreseeable future in Alberta, the employment outlook in this occupation is expected to be average compared to all other occupations.


Apprentice auto body technicians earn at least 55% of the journeyman wage in their place of employment in the first year, 70% in the second, 80% in the third and 90% in the fourth year. Journeyman wage rates vary, but generally range from $16 to $22 an hour (1997 figures). Some auto body technicians are paid on commission or flat rate so their earnings depend on the amount of work assigned to them, and how quickly it is completed.


Nissan and Dealers Donate $200,000 to Alberta Training Center

March 7, 2002

Nissan Canada Inc. and local Nissan and Infiniti dealers have donated $200,000 to assist the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in building a state-of-the-art automotive technician training center.
The donation will be used to help complete the Clayton Carroll Automotive Center, which is designed to help alleviate a critical shortage of automotive technicians all across Canada
"The generosity from Nissan Canada and the Calgary Nissan and Infiniti Dealers puts students, instructors and industry one step closer to utilizing a training center designed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and technically based automotive industry," said Irene Lewis, president and CEO of SAIT.
"Their generosity is strong testimony to the value Nissan places on continuous education and skills upgrading."
Lewis accepted a cheque from John Kalsbeek, Nissan Canada's director of quality assurance and customer services and Lawrence Bates, president of Stadium Nissan in Calgary.
Kalsbeek, who was an auto technician himself before joining Nissan Canada's executive team 32 years ago, said, "Today, technology and skills development are progressing more rapidly and in line with the transportation needs and expectations of modern society, be it safety, environmental, performance or entertainment.
"As automotive manufacturers and dealers, we need to partner with institutions like SAIT that produce the best of the best in terms of developing competencies and skills to ensure the safety and well-being of the motoring public. We look forward to and take pride in our long-term future in this regard."
Stadium Nissan's Lawrence Bates used a strategy that has been successful in producing donations from other auto manufacturers. Bates, who has been involved in SAIT fundraising for several years, first solicited donations from the other Nissan and Infiniti dealers in Calgary, raising $100,000, then successfully approached Nissan Canada to match their donation.
"This new state-of-the-art automotive center is a fine example of partnering between the auto industry and SAIT," Bates said. "It will provide our industry with well trained, highly skilled technicians so that we are able to meet our customers' needs now and in the future."
As well as Stadium Nissan, Brasso Nissan, Sunridge Nissan and Hyatt Infiniti contributed to Nissan's donation.
The automotive center is named after SAIT alumnus Clayton Carroll, who graduated in 1940 and went on to build a highly successful paving company in Southern Alberta. Carroll donated $1 million, the largest donation ever from an individual SAIT alumnus, to kick off the funding for the center.
The Clayton Carroll Automotive Center will be a state-of-the-art automotive center equipped with the latest in diagnostic and servicing technology. It will provide three areas of automotive service training: apprenticeship trades allowing students to work while they learn; full-time certificate and diploma programs; and customized training for the transportation sector.
The Clayton Carroll Automotive Center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2003.
(courtesy of


Boyd Group Opens 12th Alberta Collision Repair Facility

December 4, 2001

The Boyd Group Inc. announced today that it has opened its 12th Alberta collision repair facility, located in the Douglasdale Auto Centre in Calgary. According to Pat Chassie, Boyd's regional vice president, operations,

"This new collision repair facility will compliment our existing Alberta operations and will further enhance our ability to service our insurance company partners in the Calgary market."

When combined with existing operations, this n ew facility is expected to increase Boyd's overall annualized sales to approximately $146 million (Cdn), of which approximately 65% will be derived from U.S. operations.

With the addition of the Douglasdale location, Boyd now operates 65 company owned and eight licensed locations in Canada and the U.S. It is the largest operator of collision repair shops in Canada and is among the largest in North America, a market recently estimated to be approximately $40 billion in annual revenue.


posted on June 6, 2002

My name is Mathew and I was just wondering how I should go about selling my car on the web. It is a 1989 Pontiac Bonnville that needs minor repairs. I am asking $800 for it. I live in Calgary, AB and I couldn't find where to post it on your website. However, I'm not even sure if you do that so if you could let me know that would be great. You can reach me at
thank you very much.