Training programs and recognition are adapting to the needs of the industry.
Over the last decade, changes in automotive fuel economy and emissions mandates have radically altered the way in which cars and trucks are designed, engineered and manufactured. For collision repairers, these changes have manifested themselves in new repair techniques, equipment and increasingly specialized training. In response, I-CAR Canada has made some very significant changes to how its recognition programs are structured as well as the type and number of training courses offered, all in an effort to help collision industry repairers and technicians stay ahead of the curve. To find out some of the latest developments, Collision Management talked with Andrew Shepherd, Executive Director, I-CAR Canada.
Can you tell us how the revised I-CAR Gold Class Recognition status program is progressing in Canada?
Andrew Shepherd: We currently have approximately 120 shops that have achieved the new Gold Class standard, with around 500 more in progress that are within very close reach, requiring around five courses per technician. As for future progress, my public position is that we expect to see a tipping point, where the number of shops that are Gold Class certified outnumber those that are not. The tipping point is predicted either later this year, or early next year.
As OEMs take an ever more active role in the collision repair process, how is I-CAR Canada helping ensure technicians remain current with the latest repair requirements?
AS: There are a couple of different aspects to that. Firstly, that either some I-CAR training or full Gold Class certification is required for most of the OEM certified repair network programs. This applies not only to luxury brands but also to mass-market vehicles. This has been a key driver for the move towards shops becoming Gold Class certified as well as ROI and a desire to be part of those networks. The other major point is that globally, many OEMs have embraced I-CAR as a single avenue with which to push repair information into the collision repair marketplace.
Can you tell us about some of the specific initiatives coming through I-CAR Canada?
AS: What you’re going to see is that Honda, General Motors, Toyota and a few other automakers will be releasing specific OEM courses through I-CAR. These are not your traditional four-hour courses, but one-or two-hour online courses that are model and platform specific. The change is actually coming from I-CAR in the U.S. because it is the licence holder for the courses that are implemented here in Canada. By breaking down the previous 100 four-hour courses into one- or two-hour segments, it allows the shop manager and trainer to utilize skills for specific procedures, pay for what they need, and learn on demand. Most of these courses will be available online and via webinars.
Have you seen any trends in terms of which courses are proving the most popular?
AS: The model/platform OE specific courses are likely going to see very significant demand, but a very interesting trend has been the demand for our New Technology series. It’s the least technical course we offer but I’m convinced that because our industry is changing so rapidly, and so are the skills required, shop managers want to know what to expect in the future.