By Mike Pickford
Peterborough, Ontario – July 22, 2016 -- Following several months of development, Axalta Coating Systems officially launched its Master Refinish Certification program earlier this month, providing professionals and aspiring students across North America with the platform to perfect their painting skills.
In rolling out the new four-stage teaching initiative, Axalta has completely remodeled the way it offers its programming. Under the previous regime, trainees were required to spend three days training, while the newly refined course calls for just two days.
Speaking to Collision Repair magazine, Axalta’s North American Learning and Development Director Patrice Marcil said he couldn’t be happier with the new program, describing it simply as “a better way to present training.”
“Our customers asked for a program that would help develop talent in their businesses,” Marcil said. “Our new Master Refinish Certification program is going to do just that. By remodeling our entire training program, we’re looking at creating and developing the skills of the individuals enrolled in the most progressive way possible.”
He added, “When you look at the way the business is going today, you could have a job in a shop worth tens of thousands of dollars, so the people performing these jobs need to be very good. This program will ensure those enrolled, once finished, will be very good at their job.”
The first stage of training, named Level 100, is the entry-level course reserved mainly for field training and simply requires individuals to clue up on the basic training practices and facts related to refinishing. This stage can be completed in a regular shop, according to Marcil.
“The initial level of training will be straightforward work that you could complete right in-shop,” Marcil said. “We’ll come out and essentially (show someone the ropes) of refinishing.”
Individuals will be required to hit the classroom from Level 200 onwards, with the second stage regarded as the “professional level” of training. Taking place in an Axalta Learning and Development centre, students will be taught the basic fundamentals of refinishing, as well as being informed about the skills needed to perform their jobs.
Level 300 is considered the advanced level of training and will require individuals to learn to take basic concepts and apply them in a practical way. Training in this stage will once again take place at an Axalta Learning and Development centre.
“The level of complexity for the third stage increases a little bit from the second stage, so people need to start showing a real understanding of paint chemistry and an understanding of the equipment and work environment if they are to maximize the results and minimize mistakes,” Marcil said. “That’s what this program is about – essentially training people to such a standard as to eliminate the need for redoes and ensuring they’re getting the best results all the time.”
The final level of testing, Level 400, is the expert level decision-making course. This stage provides technicians with the tools to achieve preventative troubleshooting abilities using abstract concepts, resulting in professional, efficient repair.
Once all four stages of training have been completed, individuals will have earned their master refinish certification. Marcil says the organization has “special plans” for the final stage of testing.
“We’ve decided we’re going to video tape Level 400, there’s going to be a real focus on the analysis of skills and looking in detail at how good each person is and how well they spray,” Marcil said. “It’s going to be pretty unique. It will present those taking part with the ability to troubleshoot and analyze their own skills, which is pretty much the ultimate prize here.”
Testing an average of 5,000 professionals across Canada and the US each year, Marcil said he hoped to see between five and 10 per cent (250 and 500) of those enrolling to reach master certification status sometime within the next 12 months.
Currently costing $200 per day, regardless of the level of testing, master certification can be reached at a total cost of $1,200 – a paltry investment considering the vast return, according to Marcil.
“When you look at the requirements today and how the collision repair industry operates, right now every single second counts in a shop,” Marcil. “There is a large emphasis placed on quickness and if we are able to shave five minutes per repair simply by training individuals to do things right the first time, essentially avoiding any waste, then over the course of a week, for a large shop, that is an awful lot of money saved.”
He added, “Of course every good shop already has highly skilled employees – you cannot thrive in this industry without that. What this program will do is optimize those skills, which should, theoretically, lead to better results.”
“I’d absolutely encourage anyone that wants to better their skills to take part in this program. The goal of anyone in this industry should not be to just have the required level of skills, you need to be ahead of the curve. This program will set you firmly on that road,” Marcil said.