By Andrew Shepherd
Ottawa, Ontario — Sept. 3, 2019 — In a few weeks, I-CAR Canada will announce changes to its Gold Class recognition system, demanding more training to meet the skills requirements of a modern repair facility. We will get calls insisting that this will take more time and effort (true)—that the cost is outrageous (perhaps a relative perspective) —that the changes never end (as true as true can be).
Quite memorably, in 2011 I-CAR moved from a very simple ‘points’ system to a ‘required courses’ format. Until that point, the shop was considered “I-CAR Gold Class Recognized” if each tech took 15 hours of training per year. It didn’t matter if they took courses related to their specific tasks – or even if the courses were simply repeats—any courses totaling 15 hours and presto – you’re qualified!
You can guess that we were inundated with calls—too expensive—too complex—a ‘cash grab’.
The pre-2011 recognition system seems laughable eight years later. The complexity of vehicle materials, electronics and repair procedures has escalated tremendously. No realistic shop manager would argue today that his or her techs don’t need specific training in the latest automotive advances. As the vehicle has changed so too have individual roles in the shop. I consider Canada to have a world-leading apprenticeship system—yet the knowledge that must be acquired after this, to be a safe, effective and efficient technician, is substantial and grows each and every day.
There is a very simple correlation here. The skill demands for our technicians increase in direct relationship to changes in the vehicles they are working on. It is an absolute certainty then, that the skill (and equipment) standards a shop must achieve will increase as well.
From this, we can expect OE and other shop certification and accreditation programs to increase their requirements on a regular basis. Similarly, I-CAR is announcing that its requirements for Gold Class shop recognition are increasing. Beginning this autumn, all steel structural technicians must be Platinum Recognized. Half of all other technicians must be Platinum. And welding certifications must be re-done on a three-year basis rather than five as in the past.
As you might guess by now, the standards will change—constantly. They will become more sophisticated, more complex and more time-consuming to meet.
But please keep your calls coming into our office. I can suggest numerous legitimate grievances about I-CAR Canada—that we don’t recognize all OE training yet—that some of our course material is geared toward American topics—that the recognition system can be complex. But if you’re calling to say that the changes are too frequent, that the training is unaffordable or that your techs don’t have the time—I may have a few arguments for you!