By Andrew Shepherd
Ottawa, Ontario -- February 26, 2017 -- The emergence of collision repair facility standards over the past few years has been striking. Of course fairly basic regulatory norms—covering labour and environmental standards, for example —have been in place for decades. Insurer Direct Repair Programs have applied a wide range of requirements, although perhaps so varied (and unenforced?) as to belie the term “standard.” Canada’s network consolidation, among the highest in the world, has produced a substantial increase in operational and repair output standards among our shops.
Perhaps the most significant driver of repair facility standards has been the release of OEM certified repair networks, for several years in the US and more recently here. Although these vary in content, one can argue that most are converging on I-CAR Gold Class recognition as the common measure of shop training levels.
This trend has been facilitated by I-CAR’s move in 2011 to the Professional Development Program (PDP) as the foundation of Gold Class recognition. Where previously technicians simply had to take a number of courses per year, the PDP sets out the core skill and knowledge requirements for the four key roles in any collision repair facility.
This was a dramatic change in the definition of Gold Class, requiring dramatically more training to achieve. At the same time, there are very few in the industry who would argue that this new level of training—and more—is not justified by the technology of the modern vehicle.
So how is Canada faring in this transition to “the new Gold Class”? As the chart below shows, we score an “A Plus.”
The numbers above are data extrapolations but do provide a very good measure of how close we are to reaching Gold Class recognition. Note that under the PDP, a shop needs one technician in each of four key roles to reach Gold Class, hence the measure of x courses per four technicians.
As an average, a shop needing seven courses per technician to reach Gold Class needs to spend about $3,800 and release their four technicians for 21 hours, certainly achievable within a couple of months. With this commitment, Canada could see over 1,200 Gold Class shops—or 30 percent of all facilities in the country—by August 2017.
How does this compare globally? Australia and New Zealand deliver I-CAR training but are just now starting along the path toward adoption of the Gold Class standard. In the US, without the Canadian shop consolidation and without an apprenticeship system, 13.1 percent of shops are Gold Class. For any Canadian OEMs and insurers hesitating about adopting Gold Class as the ideal measure of a shop’s training commitment, the figures above should provide much food for thought.