In 2016, I-CAR achieved double-digit growth in shops and technicians trained, rolled out new products and services, and forged new industry partnerships, all in an effort to better serve the collision repair inter-industry.
The not-for-profit organization saw its total numbers of Gold Class-recognized shops rise to 4,277, a 16.5 percent increase over 2015. The total number of Gold Class shops and those on the Road to Gold increased 22.7 percent over the previous year, and I-CAR trained a total of 70,706 students, up 12.8 percent.
“None of this happened by chance,” I-CAR CEO and President John Van Alstyne said. “We have listened closely to the industry, our customers and our volunteers and instructors. Five years ago, we built a robust strategy with the objective to improve all we do, to grow and to increase our relevance. The increasing impact we are having across our industry shows that our strategy is working.”
Reflecting on 2016’s successes, I-CAR:
- Launched the new Vehicle and Technology Specific Training curriculum, rebranding 26 existing courses to form the initial portfolio at mid-year, and recently adding seven new courses. I-CAR will release more model-year specific courses this fall and each year thereafter.
- Expanded the reach of its Repairability Technical Support (RTS) portal. RTS puts solutions for technicians, appraisers, shop owners and managers at their fingertips. Just two years after its launch, a Collision Advice/CRASH Network survey found that RTS is the No. 2 source used for collision repair technical information, behind only ALLDATA. RTS also rolled out the first-ever OEM Calibration Requirements Search portal at the end of 2016.
- Expanded its Welding Training and Certification program. The number of welding events increased nearly 72 percent and the number of welding students increased 60 percent.
- Grew the I-CAR Professional Development Program-Education Edition (PDP-EE). The curriculum package provides the latest in training materials for schools and students. Launched in 2012, PDP-EE now is used in 604 schools around the country, up 51.9 percent from 2015.
‘High-Impact’ Partnership with ASE
In 2016, I-CAR also announced a number of high-impact joint initiatives with Automotive Service Excellence for the benefit of technicians, students, schools and the industry.
ASE now recognizes I-CAR ProLevel 2 or 3 Platinum status to satisfy the requirements for ASE collision repair and refinish work experience. I-CAR now grants two credit hours towards Platinum annual training requirements for technicians who hold an ASE collision repair certification.
I-CAR is offering training classes at the ASE Industry Education Alliance Instructor Training Conference each year, and presented the first-ever I-CAR Collision Repair/Refinishing Technician of the Year Award at the ASE Fall Board Meeting. The two organizations also worked to clarify the alignment between PDP-EE and the NATEF Collision Repair and Refinish Standards task list and update the “curriculum crosswalk.” Students now can graduate from NATEF-accredited programs with I-CAR’s Platinum recognition and the ASE Collision Repair and Refinishing Student Certifications.
“In addition to what we accomplished in 2016, we have a number of initiatives in the works for 2017 and beyond,” Van Alstyne said. “All are designed to address needs the industry has expressed, and all are expected to contribute to the ongoing transformation and success of our industry as we face the impact of the ‘Technical Tsunami’ and growing repair complexity.”