I-CAR CEO John Van Alstyne makes the case for ongoing training
Is your shop on a path to handle the ultra-sophisticated next generation of vehicles hitting American streets in the next several years? If the answer is “no” or you’re simply unsure, it’s time to act. I-CAR is here to help. CEO John Van Alstyne sat down with GM Repair Insights to discuss his opinion on the state of the industry and how his organization can help get shops back on a training path.
GM Repair Insights: A recent I-CAR study reported that 66 percent of shops have no continuing education requirements. What is I-CAR doing to help address this issue?
Van Alstyne: We’ve worked hard to bring attention to the “Technical Tsunami,” the significant acceleration of vehicle technology. The only way to stay ahead of the wave is to train. Given the changes in vehicle technologies and architecture, up to date knowledge and skills are required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs.
Training is a survival strategy, and shops can thrive while they survive. We’ve reduced barriers to training adoption. In 2017, we implemented In-Shop Knowledge Assessments where we conduct face-to-face interviews with technicians to understand the knowledge they possess. If they meet prescribed requirements, they get credit and do not have to take related coursework. We are making improvements to our Training Alliance program, making sure OEMs with training participate, and simplifying the credit/payment process, helping to make it easier for shops to get training credit.
GM Repair Insights: What training standards should shops set? Can I-CAR assist shops with setting requirements or help put together a training program?
Van Alstyne: I-CAR’s Professional Development Program provides participants with technical knowledge (and thus training). The program is role-based and specifies progressive knowledge building. A typical role requires between 13 and 26 courses. Interested parties may call I-CAR Customer Care at 1-800 ICAR USA and get started today or visit our website at www.I-CAR.com.
GM Repair Insights: Are there particular training areas that I-car recommends shops should make priorities?
Van Alstyne: Material joining is critical to the repair of today’s vehicles, so we would advocate welding training (steel and aluminum), MIG Brazing (for UHSS), rivet bonding and adhesives. Getting estimates and damage assessment right is also important, as this sets the stage for the repair.
I often hear shops complain that they can’t afford training or worry that after investing in training an employee will leave to work at another shop. How would you respond?
GM Repair Insights: What are some other related benefits of ongoing training?
Van Alstyne: We see the best technician retention rates in shops with solid leadership and a culture that embraces learning. Managers who encourage and prepare techs before going to training, who reinforce training on the job once training has been completed, and nurture an environment where knowledge is shared. Shops with progressive leadership and a learning culture see lower turnover than the average shop.
GM Repair Insights: What kind of OEM training can shops receive from I-CAR?
Van Alstyne: I-CAR works with most OEMs to develop and deliver training. GM refers dealers and affiliated shops to I-CAR for training and requires several specific courses such as our Welding Training and Certification Program. Gold Class status is a qualifier for the Cadillac CT6 Network program. GM has requested I-CAR to conduct all GM body structural repair training within the United States. We also are working with GM on an overview course that will be available online before the end of 2017.
Across the industry, we have over 30 courses that are vehicle and/or technology specific and are adding approximately 10 per year going forward. When we say technology specific, an example might be our Carbon Fiber Course or Aluminum Intensive Vehicles. Any training required for an OEM certification program likely involves I-CAR, so please call our Customer Care team for help.