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I-CAR: 60% increase in welding students, 16.5% more Gold shops among 2016 gains

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I-CAR said Thursday that it had taught 70,706 students in 2016, up 12.8 percent, and grown the number of Gold Class shops 16.5 percent.

The number of shops either Gold Class or “Road to Gold” rose 22.7 percent over 2015.

And in welcome news for customers needing structural repair, I-CAR reported a 60 percent increase in welding students and 71.6 percent more “welding events” in 2016. A year prior, the organization warned the industry that 69 percent of technicians lack any I-CAR welding certification, even on steel.

“We’ve been pounding the drum on welding,” I-CAR President and CEO John Van Alstyne said Nov. 2, 2016, at the Collision Industry Conference “… 2016 has been a huge year for welding for us.”

Last year, I-CAR announced it wanted to more than double the number of shops trained from 9,231 (a statistic which includes individual locations of regional and national multi-store operations who’ve sent technicians to training) in 2015 to 19,000, with 9,000 returning for continuing education.

I-CAR did not say Thursday whether it accomplished this lofty goal, but it appears unlikely; Van Alstyne at the November CIC described training 9,325 unique businesses with 195 courses. He estimated that probably only about 10-12 percent of the industry had the necessary training and equipment to fix vehicles properly.

“We have a long way to go as an industry,” he said.

Still, I-CAR’s double-digit gains are certainly a step in the right direction.

“None of this happened by chance,” Van Alstyne said in a statement Thursday. “We have listened closely to the industry, our customers and our volunteers and instructors. Five years ago, we built a robust strategy with the objective to improve all we do, to grow, and to increase our relevance. The increasing impact we are having across our industry shows that our strategy is working.”

The organization Thursday also celebrated its reorganization of 26 courses into a new “Vehicle and Technology Specific Training” portfolio last year, noting that it just opened seven new classes. OEMs represented include FCA, Nissan, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche, Subaru and General Motors.

“More model-year specific courses will be released in the fall of 2017 and each year thereafter,” I-CAR promised.

“We’re not the same old I-CAR,” Van Alstyne said in November; the organization has a lot of new content. it’s also working to be more hands-on, and it’s offering courses on subjects like blueprinting, rivet bonding and MIG brazing.

He also reminded the industry in November that I-CAR has electrical and mechanical classes as well.

“We’re working on refreshing that entire curriculum as we speak,” he said.

I-CAR also made inroads into vocational technical education by spreading its Professional Development Program-Education Edition to 604 schools nationwide, up 51.9 percent.

“In addition to what we accomplished in 2016, we have a number of initiatives in the works for 2017 and beyond,” Van Alstyne said in a statement Thursday. “All are designed to address needs the industry has expressed, and all are expected to contribute to the ongoing transformation and success of our industry as we face the impact of the ‘Technical TsunamiTM’ and growing repair complexity.”

“I-CAR’s healthy,” he told the November CIC. “We’re growing.”

Images:

The I-CAR booth at SEMA 2016. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

“We’ve been pounding the drum on welding,” I-CAR President and CEO John Van Alstyne said Nov. 2, 2016, at the Collision Industry Conference “… 2016 has been a huge year for welding for us.” (I-CAR slide; John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

The I-CAR booth at SEMA lists OEMs and insurers which require auto body shops to have I-CAR welding certification. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

Last year, I-CAR announced it wanted to more than double the number of shops trained from 9,231 (a statistic which includes individual locations of regional and national multi-store operations who’ve sent technicians to training) in 2015 to 19,000, with 9,000 returning for continuing education. I-CAR did not say Thursday whether it accomplished this lofty goal, but it appears unlikely; Van Alstyne at the November CIC described training 9,325 unique businesses with 195 courses. He estimated that probably only about 10-12 percent of the industry had the necessary training and equipment to fix vehicles properly. (I-CAR slide; John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

I-CAR said Thursday that it had taught 70,706 students in 2016, up 12.8 percent, and grown the number of Gold Class shops 16.5 percent. This slide was presented in November 2016, near the end of the year. (I-CAR slide; John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)