• Share this story:

Eric Fry has always loved working with his hands. It was this inclination, along with a keen interest in technology, that would eventually set him on a journey of personal and professional discovery. Along the way he would find his true passion and a surprising new pathway that would dramatically change the course of his career.

Time and Experience Feed Perspective

Eric has plenty of both. Mulling over his seemingly unlikely career from a chair in his office at BCIT’s Burnaby campus, he recalls some of the milestone moments. It began in high school. It was there that he was first introduced to the technical trades and was instantly hooked. His curiosity peaked, Eric spent his high school years feeding an intense desire to experience all that the trades programs had to offer and, so it would seem, at the expense of his other studies.

“Although I wasn’t proud of my educational standing in high school, I was awarded a trades scholarship. At the time, I thought I had earned the scholarship because I was good at all trades but horrible at everything else.” Of course, this self-assessment would soon be put to the test.

Eric entered the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Automotive Program in 1991. To his surprise he excelled in the classroom setting which encouraged him to study even harder. While working toward his Red Seal Certification he apprenticed at an independent shop for a while before landing a job at a large automotive dealership that provided him with further training opportunities.

“I took every course available to me and began to get excited about education through the process of becoming a tradesperson,” he says. “That’s when I found my passion for learning and made the decision to become an instructor, so I could help others find success in learning a trade.”

But Where Does One Begin

Eric reached out to automotive instructors and others who directed him to the Provincial Instructors Program at Vancouver Community College, a base requirement to teach at any Post-Secondary Institute in BC. With that diploma in hand, he then applied for and became an instructor at his alma mater, BCIT in 2001. It was a full circle moment.

“It was a great feeling to be teaching alongside some of the same instructors who guided and mentored me through the process of becoming an Automotive Service Technician. I feel privileged to have had an opportunity to teach hundreds of students, many of whom are still employed in the automotive industry today”.

But There’s More To His Story

In 2013 Eric earned a master’s in education (MEd) from SFU and is now Associate Dean, Agile and Work Integrated Learning at BCIT and the program managing lead for TradeUpBC. It’s a career path that the high school student who loved working with his hands could never have imagined.

When asked for some career advice Eric says that ongoing education is the key to success but acknowledges there are challenges. For example, while those working in larger automotive shops and dealerships may have access to company supported training, this is often not the case for those working at smaller, independent shops.

While staying up to date with technological change is a given, Eric believes tradespeople should also increase their awareness and understanding of the impacts that Climate Change, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Accessibility may have on their chosen trades and related industries. These, and other skills are more important now than ever before as employers face a generational shift in consumer buying habits. Today’s customer is far more likely to consider a company’s commitment to social and environmental causes before spending their money, so companies are looking to recruit trades professionals who can bring those skills with them.

Reflecting On His Own Journey

Eric says “There are many exciting career pathways for tradespeople in BC, but during my early career I never considered that I could be anything else. At that time, I had little knowledge of what the opportunities were, or how to explore them. That’s why TradeUpBC was created.”

If you’re a trades professional seeking more skills training, or finding alternative career pathways, this portal offers information and courses that will help you achieve your career goals.