The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Canada has developed a new electric vehicle training program for mechanics. The curriculum was created in participation with the City of Vancouver’s fleet team, with city mechanics serving as the first class of students.
The Vancouver fleet team manages a fleet of nearly 2,000 vehicles and equipment. This includes one of the largest municipal fleets of electric vehicles in Canada. The city declared a climate emergency in 2019, and the city hopes that by 2030, 50% of the kilometers driven are driven by zero-emission vehicles. Expanding the EV fleet is a key component of the city's Climate Emergency Response plan.
“As we’ve grown our electric vehicle fleet, we have primarily been maintaining the vehicles at manufacturer dealerships because our technicians have not had had training in electric vehicle maintenance. To rectify this we approached BCIT to discuss developing a training program,” explained Amy Sidwell, manager, fleet and manufacturing services for the City of Vancouver.
By coincidence, BCIT had received $325,000 in funding through CleanBC, a regional program that aims to promote clean and renewable energy in the province, to develop training programs. During a pilot period, BCIT was able to develop and test an EV curriculum with 12 of the city's mechanics serving as the first class.
“Previously, technicians would need to get training from the manufacturer at the dealership that they work for, but if they ran their own garage they would not be able to access training. This new training will enable many more technicians in the province of British Columbia to provide maintenance support for people with electric vehicles,” Sidwell explained.
Next, Sidwell said BCIT is working with trade associations to determine what kind of certification will be given to people who complete the EV course. The training program specifically covered light-duty EVs, but the team hopes to train its technicians in battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks and construction equipment.
BCIT’s new program will be available to the public as a part-time studies course in 2020.
“This training program is a game changer and part of where the world is going as we switch to zero-emission vehicles,” said Michelle Mungall, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources. “B.C. has the fastest increase of EVs on the road, with 30,000 now. So we’re going to need mechanics, and B.C. is the first province to offer this kind of training. This is an example of the thousands of new jobs and opportunities we’ll see under our CleanBC plan to boost the economy, reduce air pollution and make life more affordable.”