TRAINING—WHERE DOES IT END?: It doesn’t in this industry, training is career-long

By Stefano Liessi

Training should never end; not for anyone, in any profession.

The term training is a household word; however, maybe we should paraphrase the term using synonyms such as ‘learning,’ ‘educating,’ or ‘upgrading’ to encompass a wider variety of options.

Regardless of how you wish to use the term, the action of training itself should never end. People discuss it continuously in business and life in general, but how do we know where, when, what, and how?

In the collision industry, there are multiple roles that are available to those interested in the trade. A technician can begin as early as high school in some places, moving into an apprenticeship achieving certification or Red Seal designation. The latter part being as short as four years, and for some, an endless journey.

I RECENTLY HAD AN ATTENDEE IN ONE OF MY WELDING SESSIONS THAT WAS IN POSSESSION OF A CERTIFICATE FOR AN I-CAR WELDING CERTIFICATION FROM 1983. WHEN YOU HAVE AN INDIVIDUAL THAT HAS BEEN AT SOMETHING FOR 30+ YEARS, YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASSUME THAT THEY ARE FLUENT IN THEIR TRADE. SADLY, IT IS USUALLY QUITE OPPOSITE.

I continuously see technicians during my certification sessions that were licensed 10 to 30 years ago and have not really bothered with the slightest amount to upgrade.

I recently had an attendee in one of my welding sessions that was in possession of a certificate for an I-CAR welding certification from 1983. When you have an individual that has been at something for 30+ years, you would like to assume that they are fluent in their trade. Sadly, it is usually quite opposite. Many become complacent with how they do things, be it correct or incorrect—it is what they are familiar with. The hard part is to get them to realize the value in changing what they have been doing for so long.

Does the adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” sound familiar? Well, you can if the right approach is used and you get buy-in from your student. I often wonder why a person would choose not to advance their knowledge. The fact is many would like to, given the right conditions— however, there are still those that show up because they are told to, not because they want to.

Technology has placed opportunity on all parties to advance themselves in their roles. This applies to all the staff members that make up a repair facility, estimators, CSR staff, technicians, painters, and the list grows. All these roles have evolved, a CSR needs training on how to deal with customers and vendors, not to mention a solid understanding for many in the world of communications and correspondence.

Estimators now need to know more about the vehicle than just algorithms of what to click and add to a sheet, they need to understand the mechanics of a collision and the effects of the impact. If you have been through post-secondary education, you are aware of the importance of a good, solid foundation and verifiable research. Many of us turn to the quick fixes of Google and YouTube—which serves its purpose in enhancing your findings—but we must remember that there is far more bad than good on those platforms. You must know what you’re looking at.

TO BE FAIR, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO BRING SOMEONE THAT IS LACKING YEARS OF UPGRADED KNOWLEDGE UP TO DATE IN A COURSE OR TWO AND A COUPLE OF ONLINE SESSIONS. THIS IS UNREALISTIC FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED. THE ANSWER? A STEADY STREAM OF KNOWLEDGE MADE AVAILABLE SO STAFF CAN DO A LITTLE AT A TIME, MANY TIMES, EVENTUALLY GETTING ON BOARD.

 

Technicians and parts people are tasked with navigating the highway of multiple parts and superseded part numbers along with the “onetime- use” issue. Electronics make up a massive portion of the automobile today and knowing what to do with these features and how to work with them is paramount to a successful repair.

To stay on top of your game you need constant access to knowledge.

Webinars and online options are an okay way to enhance your learning but should not be the sole source in upgrading your training. In many areas, training requires hands-on assistance paired with experience and explanations, enhanced with answers to the popular question “why.”

To be fair, it is not possible to bring someone that is lacking years of upgraded knowledge up to date in a course or two and a couple of online sessions. This is unrealistic for all parties involved.

The answer? A steady stream of knowledge made available so staff can do a little at a time, eventually supporting the idea.

Do not think that because you are in a different segment of the industry, there is still a requirement for keeping up with the Joneses. Insurance partners are not excluded from this— the fact that you are outside of the shop tells me you need it more than ever. Complacency is a vicious detriment to any role. A direct connection with the floor is all but lost in these corporate roles, which in turn leaves you behind instantly regarding procedures, technical advancements, and relations. It is not only about the techs.

Regardless of the role you hold, there is always a need for training, no one knows everything, this is a fact. So, whether you are a technician needing to update welding skills, or a CSR needing some people skills, an estimator needing some research and comprehension upgrades, or a manager needing process, communication and management enhancements, there is always a need for training. There is an abundance of educational resources available to everyone in many forms from; institutions, independent consultants, to—dare I say it—the Internet.

If you have read this far in this publication of Collision Repair’s Training Directory, congratulations! You realize the importance of this investment and you are on the right path.

A Red Seal technician and the founder of Canadian Collision Specialist, Stefano Liessi enhances his experience with 12 years of I-CAR instructing coupled with high school teaching to bring you training that encompasses all learning types. Having experienced the corporate side of the industry, along with management and ownership, Stefanos focus is getting it right the first time with proper repairs, equitably, for all the people involved in the collision industry.

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