ASE Aims to Break Down Training Barriers
For many organizations, 2020 was not only a year that presented plenty of unexpected challenges, but also propelled fast-acting growth and change. The case was no different for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
“COVID upended nearly every organization in our industry in some way or another, but for us it was really this catalyst that pushed the ideas we already had on deck to the forefront,” says Trish Serratore, senior vice president of communications at ASE. “Up until last year it felt like we were still relatively analog. We had online resources but we knew we had more to offer."
Pushing to Find—and Keep—Skilled Talent
Of course providing access to educational tools and resources is paramount for the organization, but the team is also working to do its part in solving one of the industry’s largest, overarching issues—the ability to not only attract and train, but retain top talent in automotive workforce and keep them interested in the trade.
“There's this huge perceived technician shortage. However, we also have a giant turnover in our industry,” says Serratore.
“We need to find ways to get kids in, get them certified, get them trained, and then keep them working in the industry and that’s where things get fuzzy, because who is responsible for that? We all are. Between the associations and employers and schools, we all need to do our part to stop the bleed.”
Headway Already Made
In an effort to clear more accessible pathways to industry education and resources, especially in the wake of a pandemic when remote resources have become a must, ASE has been hard at work on a slate of digital solutions to keep new and existing industry professionals learning and engaged.
“There’s a lot of talk about tackling this training and transition issue, but we’re focused on taking action to start making progress big and small to break down any barriers that might be facing technicians in getting what they need,” Serratore says. “The resources, especially online we can create to make the entire process more user friendly and accommodating and easier to navigate, the more likely they are to stick with it.”
Last year, in the midst of closing and reopening its partner certification testing centers in keeping with COVID safety protocols, the organization extended its certification renewal deadlines (first to December 2020 and now to June 2021) and launched a renewal app to ensure that technicians who were uncomfortable or concerned about visiting a testing center had the ability to continue their certifications remotely. Technicians can renew their certifications by working through a series of questions sent on their phone.
The organization also revamped its member portal, where individuals can register for tests and find test scores, with a fresh design and an easier to navigate format.
The team also launched its ASE Education Foundation webinar series to help instructors maintain their required 20 hours of update training. A total of 35 presentations were produced and nearly 20,000 instructors and 60,000 technicians were able to attend virtually.
What’s to Come
This month, ASE formally launches its Spanish language testing option. Test questions have been translated and are now available in Spanish for a number of ASE’s existing certifications, with translated versions for additional testing series planned to be rolled out throughout 2021.
The organization also has plans for a new ADAS test underway with development planned throughout the year and a launch expected in 2022.
A military certification test is also underway. ASE is currently working with the U.S. Army to develop a three-tiered certification program. The program will be available to technicians who are interested in or have previously worked with the armed forces.
“The idea is to create a military ASE certification program that will both help us support and recognize servicemen who are currently in the industry, and will also help them transition to civilian life with an ASE certification credential under their belt.,” says Serratore. “The goal there being we want to help them be more employable and build those competencies and skills as they move into the regular workforce, either in an aftermarket or shop position.”
Last but not least, the organization has launched its new website this month “With all of the digital resources we’re offering, we know we need an overall digital presence to match. One that isn’t outdated or hard to understand and can bring us into 2021,” Serratore says.
With a sleek new look and design, the organization’s new website (like its revamped portal) was created with user-friendliness in mind. Registration, test prep materials and more will be clearly marked and organized to take guesswork out of navigating the certification process and finding educational resources.
“It’s just one more step in making sure the ways we’re interacting everyday with our core audience are only making things easier to find, easier to use and are connecting the industry,” Serratore says. “That’s what we’re here for.”