By Andrew Shepherd
In our last article we looked at best practices for education and training. I-CAR has advanced the precept that knowledge management is rapidly becoming the most important driver of business success–and has instilled this in many of the new Production Manager Role courses.
In this approach, the first and foremost role of the manager or owner is to position training in the knowledge development cycle (create and instill a vision for success; determine the skills needed to achieve success; plan and execute training to build those skills; ensure the knowledge acquired through training is disseminated as widely as possible). But all training is not created equal. It can range from theoretical to hands-on, from short bursts of 15 minutes to days or even weeks, from delivery in your shop to a separate location or even distance learning.
How do you choose a training provider? Reputable training providers will offer:
• A stable and predictable course schedule, with full information on location, the trainer and course content, to allow as much planning as possible by the shop management;
• A learning management system (LMS) in place to let you keep track of training progress;
• A website which details course descriptions, schedules and offers course registration; and
• Comprehensive connections with the shop and trainee to provide notifications of upcoming courses, existing registrations, etc.
Finally, word of mouth or customer references should confirm that the training provider offers a quality product with good customer service. In choosing a form of training, shops have found that online training works for:
• Teaching basic theory.
• Basic technical and sales training.
• Product introduction, basic technical and sales training modules.
• Access by staff to use on their own time.
• Online courses are enhanced by access to online skill testing and pre-employment testing/evaluations. Generally, shops have found that onsite/classroom/hands-on training works for: • Advanced hands-on training for technical instruction.
• General and specific applications.
• Hands-on training in the shop.
Ideally we would choose the form of training which fits the material, the trainee and the shop. Unfortunately we don’t have such a surplus of training choices that all options are available for all skills development areas. What is clear is that we are going to be doing much more training than in the past.
With the increased time commitment and cost comes greater urgency to get the best return on the investment. To this end, no matter which provider you choose:
• Ensure techs knows why they’re attending the session and understand the overall goals;
• Move the learning from the individual to the group–ask for a five minute recap of the training–spend time assessing where the learning can change your shop practices;
• Continue to review the role of training in meeting your goals and use your goals to drive training.
In the next article we’re going to look at much more fundamental questions. Are our current training programs, including apprenticeship, a legacy of the past, and do we need a more modern approach for the high-tech industry of the future?
Andrew Shepherd is the Executive Director of I-CAR Canada, a non-profit organization that provides collision repair training and ongoing education. He can be reached via e-mail at