Publisher's Statement - May 2013
Association-sponsored training on the upswing
The “soft” infrastructure of education and training is increasingly important in a rapidly changing, technological society and industry. In many cases, it is the associations that have dedicated time and resources to collaborating, developing and sponsoring quality training events.
ASA regional training
We recently attended three enjoyable and productive regional training events: the ASA-Colorado training conference in Denver, the ASA-Midwest Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in Overland Park, Kan., and the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) in Seattle, sponsored by ASA-Northwest. Thousands of hours of training were offered. The Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo has been the trendsetter for two decades and continues to break new ground each year.
In addition, automotive instructors from secondary and post-secondary programs attended the events in greater numbers than ever before. At ATE, 75 instructors met to discuss issues relating to automotive education and listen to speakers.
At Vision, the first-ever Educator Think Tank was launched and provided instructors with contemporary skills, resources, and teaching methods to train the next generation of technicians. It included 10 sessions specifically aimed at the needs of instructors, such as laptops in the classrooms and how to acquire them. Online resources for supplementing curriculum, best practices to keep classes viable, and how to attract the best students were other topics addressed.
Sheri Hamilton, ASA-Midwest executive director and Vision show manager, said, “In order for the automotive repair industry to remain vibrant, we must ensure educators have the tools, resources, and skills needed to teach the 21st century classroom.”
NASTF meeting discusses closing ‘service-readiness’ gaps
The Spring National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) General Meeting was held at the Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo. Two panel discussions were presented, one featuring auto manufacturer executives discussing their requirements for service under dealer franchise agreements, and another with five aftermarket experts who examined the current status of “service-readiness” from the perspective of the independent service provider. There were many “take-away” points in both discussions.
Mark Saxonberg, Toyota, said, “The availability of service information doesn’t, itself, make a tech service-ready.” Additional resources needed include: factory diagnostic functions, product knowledge, tech assistance support, factory parts options, and a commitment to learning.
“A 2010 Ford has about 11 million lines of code,” Aaron Cherrington of Identifix said during the aftermarket discussion. “A tech today must have information partners.”
Jeff Minter of Madison Technical College said it’s difficult to fit all the training needed into a two-year program. He also expressed concern that education is too focused on pattern failures and not enough on system understanding, valuable when developing diagnostic skills.
Bob Augustine of Christian Brothers Automotive encouraged shops to develop a “training roadmap,” while Bob Savignac of Paxton Garage said independent shops should accept responsibility for turning tech school graduates into qualified technicians.
Skip Potter, NASTF director, said NASTF’s strategy is to effectively close the education component of the service readiness gap.
All told, well done, and thank you to all involved.