I-CAR is the U.S.-based organisation that researches crash repair techniques and delivers technical training globally including NZ. It’s well established here and compliance represents the expected quality standard. Vehicle construction and repair technology continues to evolve, and is increasingly sophisticated. This means standards must adapt and quality panel shops must continue to invest in on-going training. Significant cost is involved, insurance companies expect it, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it so it’s a tense relationship. Collision repair is an industry in crisis and we’ve reviewed it before including https://crashmanagement.co.nz/collision-repair-sector-crisis/.
U.S-based research and standards are about to change again. We’re told that panel shop that had sat idly on the “on-ramp” of “Road to Gold” standard can no longer claim that status starting 1 January 2019. In addition, a panel shop that had accomplished Gold Class under the looser criteria of ProLevel 1 technicians and a single employee satisfying all four major shop roles will be given one year to meet the tougher Gold Class rules.
I-CAR explained the transition and why the “Road to Gold” concept would expire, promoting a sweeping overhaul of its curriculum and the Gold Class and Platinum criteria. CEO John Van Alstyne said the “Road to Gold idea had taken on a ‘recognition level’ status, yet it was never meant that way.” Some panel shop s were content to stay on that “on-ramp,” Van Alstyne said, and so I-CAR was eliminating that concept at the end of this year. I-CAR sales and marketing senior vice president Nick Notte said that a panel shop on the Road to Gold and “very close,” and his counsel to them was, “‘Do what you can.’” It would be much simpler in 2019 for a panel shop that had made Gold Class under the old rules to meet the new Gold Class criteria, than it would be for a panel shop that failed to achieve Gold Class by the end of 2018.” He suggested repairers examine which Alliance training their technicians had taken as some of it may count for I-CAR credit, but their technicians may not have applied for it. Another possibility involves having technicians interviewed by I-CAR to gauge their existing skills as proficiency might translate into I-CAR ProLevel 1 credit under a new initiative.
I-CAR also said it would introduce “Heightened Platinum and Gold Class requirements aligned with industry benchmarks and repair requirements.” Van Alstyne said that going forward, a Gold Class panel shop must have at least 100 percent of structural technicians reaching ProLevel 2. Half of the employees within each of the three other key role categories (estimator, non-structural technician, steel structural technician, refinish technician) at the panel shop must also reach ProLevel 2. The reason for the change involved the fact that the “minimally required skills courses” were housed in ProLevel 2. It was important for a technician to have the “fundamental knowledge” of ProLevel 1 and the “foundational skills” of ProLevel 2. “No longer can a single person represent all four roles necessary for Gold Class either. I-CAR will only allow a maximum of two categories per person to count. Allowing a single person to still put two technical roles towards the Gold Class Checklist was done for the benefit of a small scale panel shop, which might have a single person functioning as a structural and non-structural technician,” Van Alystne said.
I-CAR will give existing Gold Class repairers a year to catch up. “During this time, shops must meet progress milestones that are outlined in a pre-assessment report, or they will lose their Gold Class status,” an I-CAR website discussing the transition states. We asked why I-CAR had opted for a transition period rather than just making a hard deadline to retain Gold Class status. I-CAR strategic development vice president Ann Gonzalez said that a panel shop that had worked hard to reach Gold Class, and technician turnover had often led to staff being at different levels of accomplishment today. We wanted to give every panel shop time, and we couldn’t evaluate all of them in January 2019. She said I-CAR would offer shops “some trust” that they would keep training and give them a prescription that needed to be followed within a year, calling it a “fair deal” to every panel shop that had made the effort to clinch Gold Class already. “We’re trying to work with the industry,” Gonzalez said. “This acknowledged the hard work existing Gold Class shops had done and gave them a 12-month cycle to catch up.”
Technicians since 2010 have been designated Platinum at ProLevel 1. But under the overhaul, an employee couldn’t call themselves Platinum unless they’d reached ProLevel 3. It made no sense to bestow I-CAR’s “highest credentialing” without requiring the technician to reach the highest level of training, Van Alstyne explained. I-CAR said it will allow Platinum technicians two years of that title before yanking the designation. “Depending on their current level of training, current Platinum Level technicians will have up to two calendar years to achieve the increased requirements, with progress milestone goals achieved throughout this period.” However, I-CAR plans to improve its process of allowing Alliance training (such as a paint manufacturer’s class) to count for I-CAR credit. “We don’t care who teaches,” Van Alstyne said. “Just take the training.” I-CAR will also continue to grant waivers for ProLevel 1 training to technicians who demonstrate suitable knowledge in interviews. Van Alstyne presented a slide of “Strong Industry Support” from all three sectors carrying logos of all Big 4 consolidators and CARSTAR, and all top five automakers. He said he had discussed the changes with the brands, many of which had Gold Class built into their panel shop network programs.