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Automotive Industries Association of Canada announces research phase of new project to promote the advancement of women in the automotive aftermarket industry

Windsor, October 29, 2015 – The Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada is pleased to announce the launch of the research phase of the Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange (AWAKE) project. The three-year project, funded by Status of Women Canada, aims to promote the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in the automotive aftermarket industry.

AIA Canada’s Senior Director of Industry Relations, France Daviault officially announced the first phase of the project today at St. Clair College alongside Waseem Habash, Vice President, Academic of St. Clair College, and Nour Hachem, St. Clair College Pre-Apprenticeship Project Manager and AWAKE research partner.

The Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange came about as the result of the work of a dedicated group of women in the automotive aftermarket industry that make up the Women’s Leadership Advisory Committee. This group of women, who are also now AWAKE Ambassadors, first reached out to AIA Canada after its inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference in June 2014. They were compelled by the conference discussions and created the Women’s Leadership Advisory Committee to help identify needs and create a plan to increase the position of women in the aftermarket automotive industry.

“While women have made gains in several sectors and professions where they have been underrepresented, they continue to have low representation in the skilled trades, technology and science-based professions,” explains Ms. Daviault. “Thanks to the Ambassadors and Women’s Leadership Advisory Committee members, AWAKE aims to help close this gap in the automotive aftermarket industry.”

In collaboration with key partners and professionals working in the industry, AWAKE looks to create an action plan and offer recommendations for more inclusive and supportive employment environments for women in the automotive aftermarket industry. Project activities will be piloted and evaluated with industry association members and partners to create sustainable opportunities and to support the advancement of women in the automotive aftermarket. They include a needs assessment, development of strategic partnerships and of a sector plan to recruit, retain, and advance women in the automotive aftermarket sector.

AIA Canada has partnered with St. Clair College to undertake the needs assessment research (survey, focus groups, analysis and report) portion of the project with, Nour Hachem, leading the work.

“St. Clair College is pleased to partner with AIA Canada to undertake the needs assessment research to support and enhance the representation of women in the automotive aftermarket. We are confident that the report and its recommendations will make a significant impact for women working in the industry and for young women seeking career opportunities,” says Habash.

Earlier this month, Ms. Hachem travelled across Canada conducting focus groups to hear from women who are currently working in the automotive aftermarket sector. Their experience and knowledge demonstrates to young women today that jobs in this sector can be rewarding.

“We are seeing a steady increase in interest from women wanting to enter the Skilled Trade at St. Clair College. Anything we can do to foster engagement moving forward is positive.” says Hachem.

As final deliverables, the project plans to offer an online portal to support networking and knowledge sharing on employment practices and professional development activities, as well as, pilot the development of a tool kit for the recruitment and retention of women in the sector. It will also provide tools to assist with succession planning and to ensure that women are represented at various levels of the industry.

"The Canadian automotive aftermarket industry offers exciting opportunities for a diverse range of skilled professionals, including women. This project will open doors for women and help them to advance within this sector. Their contribution strengthens both industry and our economy." Patricia Lazzarotto, Canadian Director, National Accounts, Crowne Automotive Aftermarket Group, member AIA’s Women’s Advisory Council.

In 2016, AIA Canada will develop strategic partnerships with the education and skills training sectors, other industry association and trade media to reach as many women across Canada.

"We are proud to partner with St. Clair College and our other partners on this project so that more women can advance in the automotive aftermarket industry in Canada. We look forward to collaborating with industry stakeholders from different provinces to help women achieve this goal."  France Daviault, Senior Director, Industry Relations, AIA Canada.

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About the Aftermarket Automotive Sector
The aftermarket automotive sector in Canada is a $19.4 billion industry that employs more than 420,000 people in every community across the country. The aftermarket automotive sector is made up of companies that .manufacture, distribute and install automotive replacement parts, accessories, tools, and equipment.

About AIA Canada
The Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada is the national trade association that brings together the entire automotive aftermarket, supply and service chain. AIA’s mandate is to promote, educate and represent members in all areas that impact the growth and prosperity of the industry. To learn more, please visit www.aiacanada.com.

About St. Clair College
St. Clair College, with 4 campuses in Southwestern Ontario, provides excellence in postsecondary education along with lifelong learning opportunities for more than 8,500 full time and 20,000 part time learners. St. Clair College values a dynamic and supportive learning environment that is student- focused and results oriented. It’s the College where students start HERE go anywhere.

For more information, please contact Communications at:
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1400
Ottawa, ON K2P 2K3   1-800-808-2920, ext. 233
communications@aiacanada.com

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