Interest in fundamental articles and/or video?
it doesn't take long to see that there are a number of talented technicians on this forum, and Im proud to be a founding member of a platform that allows them (and me!) to further hone their skills and advance to even higher levels. But I have to ask - should we also make efforts to provide resources to those not quite at that level yet?
Many mobile technicians have shared a common thread with me I think we, as a community of technicians, need to address. They share that most calls they are asked to become involved with are solved through the application of fundamental techniques and processes. And as the technical editor of the nation's oldest automotive trade publication, I've seen it personally in shops, schools and events around the world.
Many technicians struggle with basic electrical troubleshooting, are being taught repair methods that were antiquated a decade or more ago by well-meaning mentors, and just don't understand the actual complexity of the modern automobile - or the impact that the application of improper processes or procedures can make on its systems.
Should there be a library of resources here that these techs can turn to? Sources, perhaps, that are vetted by Diag.net to insure that the Google "gurus" are kept out? To be clear, I know of a number of legitimate YT channels that share accurate knowledge and I am not against them. But there are also way more that are demonstrating processes that are downright dangerous. And many of the automotive YT channels are of the content creator performing a certain repair or diag on a certain vehicle. My thought is to keep this "library" more generalized.
After watching and learning from many of your videos,I would say yes to a library of resources. We all don't know everything, and weren't always as knowledgeable as we are today. I myself have an insatiable appetite to learn new things and different processes, and know I have benefited from the help of fellow techs.
I too joined to learn and bounce idea's off of like minded individuals, and while I am nowhere near the level of most of the guys and gals on this site I too hope to someday be able to contribute something valuable.
With that being said my experience is much like yours and what the mobile guys are seeing.
Frequent "problem cars" from other shops that are diagnosed with simple voltage drop or bad battery or a VE test, cars where multiple of the same part replaced and now they want their new ecm reprogrammed.
But I don't think the problem is lack of access to quality information (for the most part) but a lack of desire or a willingness to put in the work to make themselves better. For a lot of guys I meet it's just a job.
A couple of years ago on the way to a training class for some reason I started counting the number of shops I had to pass en route to where the class was being held. It was between 25-30 on my short 10 mile trip and not one person from any of those shops were at the class. Some that were there the first night were not there the second. And even some if the guys putting in the effort seemed to be shaky of alot of foundational stuff.
I don't know what the solution to the problem is. I used to try and get guys to go to training but It was like pounding my head against the wall. But I'm pretty sure part of the solution is outside the scope of what this group is here for.
I have seen the same apathy you describe all around the country. The shop where I last worked as a technician was a perfect example. And there is a cure - shop owners must instill a culture of learning in their businesses and make it clear that standing still in your profession is not "acceptable". Many shop owners are doing just that and reaping the benefits.
I also have learned, through my involvement with NACE Automechanika, that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of techs who are hungry for knowledge and training but simply can't afford to attend "live" events. Even low cost offerings are often out of the reach of men and women who are earning a median income of around $35k - $40k a year and trying to support their families. When we offered our webinars at no cost, for example, we would have average registrations of 500 - 750 people. And our first Chicago event attracted approximately 2,000. (All still shy of being truly significant when you consider that there are 3/4 million techs in our industry!)
What I am suggesting is a verified resource center for those that fit into this latter category.
When I reread what what I wrote I realized that it came across more negative than I had anticipated and didn't really address what you were asking. It wasn't so long ago when I came across all of the great information that Motorage and TST was putting out for free or next to nothing. At the time I thought I had hit the jackpot because live training was a luxury
You are right there are a lot of guys and girls looking for training. And having a central place to find it can only be a good thing.
Thank you for continuing to fly the flag and I will try better to do the same.
I agree with Joseph, most of the issue is the techs themselves. I encounter 3 issues:
#1. Training ALWAYS occurs after hours, on the techs time, with NO compensation. Many are lucky if the shop pays for the class! Some won't even do that. It's very hard to spend nights/weekends doing training with everything else going on in a person's life. So many don't want to attend. Also most shops don't REQUIRE the techs to attend training.
#2. Once they get the training, problems are encountered. There is the lack of tools/information access within the shops. Does no good to learn how to preform testing if you don't have the required tooling and information. No testing equipment, scan tools years out of date, no access to repair information.
#3. Getting paid for the testing! Most shops won't charge for the diagnosis correctly, so the techs is better off throwing parts what he will get paid for. This is a major issue in dealerships with their .3 diagnostic labor times. Why spend time diagnosing that you won't get paid for when you can throw parts and move on? Would you work for free?
I have taught many classes and these are the major gripes the techs relay to me. Seems the REAL needed change is owners who recognize that this is NOT the '50's! We need owners who INSIST that techs are trained, pay them to take the training, and charge the customers when they use it. Owners that buy what a shop needs and keeps the equipment/information access current. Owners who don't just pay for parts hanging, but require a complete diagnosis and will charge the customer, and pay the techs for doing it. This would help weed out the techs who are just in it for a paycheck.
As long as management "gurus" continue to tell owners that they are paying too much for labor, and they need to cut pay and get cheaper help to increase profits, then the owners will keep making the business work on the backs of the techs. There is usually very little incentive to "improve" for the techs, other than to "get faster" turning wrenches.
So yes, the solution is not all with us.
#3 Is unfortunately something that occurs far too often in the industry. Whether it is directly related to a busy day, warranty not paying for further diagnosis or management not allowing for in depth diagnosis. I heard some manufactures are increasing labour in an attempt to inhibit part throwing.
I completely agree Pete, but from the trainers point of view I can also add this. If anyone tries to sell a class on electrical fundamentals or basic scan tool operation, no one would attend. Even though we all know that is exactly the type of classes that should be presented to the majority of techs over anything labeled “Advanced”
Some (not all!) in this industry have learned that internet searches will give them quick fixes that probably work so why bother learning the basics. The entire industry needs to change from the owners on down.
I absolutely agree Pete. I have a dual role. I train dealership student apprentices from near "zero" skills through to readiness to include some, or at least be prepared to absorb more advanced level training at the journey person level and beyond. For students or any persons struggling to survive on lower incomes, it is my opinion that being required to purchase several expensive texts can be an inhibiting factor, that at best is self-serving for publishers.
A repository of in-house created and vetted learning activities that are designed to explore and challenge foundation concepts and theories within this community group, could be well-received. While "gurus" seemingly abound, the real fact is that many here may work with those having less expertise and accumulated experience, but also may not have the time to mentor or assist in skills development. Those individuals might benefit from shared works, designed for their skills development, while not being limited to meeting NATEF or other standardized task lists within a formal college learning environment.
Many of the case studies currently shared here may be well beyond the ability of the less skill-savvy technician to partly or fully absorb, generally being posted for review of those with more advanced diagnostic skills. Assisting motivated technicians with less expertise to advance their technical skills through the creation of a resource library, could definitely offer learning opportunities for many who might otherwise never realize their learning and earning potential.
I taught a basic electricity class at AASP-PA Shop Survival Summit last year (Now the TOOLS conference). It wasnt supposed to happen but it was booked as a filler class because of some issues that caused other instructors to drop out. It was a class that my Dad wrote and taught for Snapon a few times back in the 90s, and it was chosen because I had very little time to prep it and I could do it easily.
I was pleasantly surprised at the feedback I got from the students, from young guys to seasoned veterans with 30+ years of experience. What set it apart from a lot of other basic classes was it was hands on. I gave each student a lab kit with various resistors and diodes and had them build circuits and take measurements while explaining kirchoffs laws. I then took some common automotive circuits and we broke them down into the basic series and parallel circuits that we had just built.
So yes, there is room for this kind of class/training, but it has to be done in a way that keeps the students interested and that they can see why it is important
Great post Pete,
Here in the UK, I've seen a shift in the workforce from " I don't do electrics because Bob in the corner does all the diag" to a real thirst for fundamental training. Even Bob in the corner has realised that the days of keeping the "Dark Arts" to himself are over.I'm building a fantastic, hungry, community of technicians that see the value in investing in the fundamentals, attending grassroots training and sharing what they knowthe demand for fundamental training has never been higher, be it webinar, Youtube, real world (no planted faults, just broken cars) workshop based or ride-alongs. A Library of grassroots resources is a great idea, especially if it creates a desire to keep learning and investing in a solid foundation. Cheers Steve...