Training vital to ride ‘technical tsunami’

I-CAR CEO and president John Van Alstyne launched day two of IBIS2016 by emphasising the acute need for more skills and training in the automotive industry.

Driven largely by what he described as a ‘technical tsunami’ and ‘the constant onslaught of new models’, he said the demand for technicians to regularly update their skills is ever-increasing. In the US alone there are between 75-100 vehicle changes each year, and that figure increases exponentially when taking into account global markets.

A major area of change is the use of material and adhesives in the construction of vehicles, as manufacturers strive towards lower weights and greater strength.

John said, ‘Vehicle architectures are changing significantly. This is bringing new repair techniques, with repairs becoming vehicle-specific. Advanced electronics is another key area of change and, as an industry, we’re dealing with rolling computers now – IBM says we’re on track to have perhaps 100 million lines of codes in vehicles.’

The trend towards self-driving cars and a predicted explosion in the number of connected vehicles is also going to have a major impact on the crash repair industry.

John continued, ‘Diagnostics is really critical; we have to do it pre-repair and post-repair, because we’re dealing with an integrated system.’

But it’s not just the evolving make-up and technology of vehicles that’s placing a strain on the industry. With the sales of cars increasing in most major global markets, demand for, and pressure on, skilled technicians is only going to increase. However, with 50-75% of these mature markets not training, he warned of a growing skills gap if the industry doesn’t act now.

He concluded, ‘If that’s happening in the developed markets, what’s happening in the under-developed markets? At I-CAR we find that unacceptable, and as an industry we should find that unacceptable.

‘The skills bar is rising. We need to recognise it and act upon it. Education, knowledge and skills is the glue that holds it all together. If you’re not training, you shouldn’t be repairing cars today. Training equals survival.’