I-CAR on Tuesday vowed to more than double the number of shops trained to 19,000 — but the tragedy was that they even had to.
Given what’s going on with vehicles — which might be made of carbon fiber and driving themselves to your parking lot before you know it — shops should be vying for I-CAR’s time, not the other way around.
In 2015, I-CAR taught 9,231 collision repair businesses, a statistic which includes individual locations of regional and national multi-store operations who’ve sent technicians to training. This year, it wants to bump that number to 19,000 auto body shops, with the other 9,000 coming back for continuing education.
Unfortunately, there were 33,770 auto body shops in 2013, according to the Census Bureau, which roughly means only 27 percent of businesses entrusted with restoring cars to crashworthiness or just cosmetic beauty even bothered to show up for class in 2015.
If I-CAR hits the 19,000-shop point, it’ll bring the industry up to 56 percent of shops that received training in 2016.
Granted, some of these businesses might not perform any structural work, and some might have sought other training, such as through an OEM. But the numbers still indicate a serious need for the industry to hit the books to ensure safe and proper repairs.
“It’s time for the industry to recognize that technical training which contributes to performance of complete, safe and quality repairs isn’t an option – it can mean survival for collision repairers, and our data shows that while surviving, shops can also thrive due to the productivity and efficiency gains that can be achieved through a better educated workforce,” I-CAR CEO and President John Van Alstyne said in a statement. “It is imperative that each and every technician in the industry has access to training and understands how they will benefit, and that business owners recognize the return on investment they can gain by investing in training now.”
I-CAR found Gold Class collision repair businesses continued to beat non-Gold shops on key performance indicators in the first quarter of 2016, a trend indicated by 2015 data too. 3,667 shops reached Gold Class in 2015, and 1,696 more were on their “Road to Gold.”
The organization announced it was gunning to reach “Every Technician.”
“We really, really mean it,” I-CAR marketing department manager Stacey Wesselink said Friday.
For the 62,690 students who did enroll in an I-CAR course last year, good for you (and your customers).
I-CAR held 8,087 welding tests for steel and aluminum welding and steel sectioning certification, all of which are good for five years. The organization also expanded the program to vocational-technical schools.
These skills are crucial to foster, as joining and sectioning procedures are changing rapidly with modern vehicles, and I-CAR has warned the industry that 69 percent of technicians lack any I-CAR welding certification, even on steel.
“Our goal is to help the industry understand the critical need for training, the benefits of training and that today’s I-CAR is not yesterday’s I-CAR,” Van Alstyne said in a statement. “We offer a fresh and relevant curriculum, the latest technical information through our Repairability Technical Support (RTS) Portal, and a total solution that in the face of the Technical Tsunami helps our industry perform complete, safe and quality repairs – while ultimately helping to improve business performance and reduce liability.”
This year, I-CAR has added rivet bonding and MIG brazing courses — both hands-on — and expanding the Production Management specialization track to a ProLevel 2 path.
I-CAR, May 3, 2016
Featured image: An I-CAR MIG brazing course is shown. (Provided by I-CAR)