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Published on February 2nd 2018 in

I-CAR looks to sign ‘Sustaining Partners’

I-CAR in the USA announced it is seeking corporate sponsors to sign on as “Sustaining Partners” and make training cheaper for collision repairers and vocational schools.

The program is open to OEMs, suppliers, estimating services and insurers. I-CAR that 83 percent of I-CAR’s funding comes from auto body shops paying tuition, and argued that this status quo kept training too expensive for some of the industry.

“Training expense is impeding training for many shops and technicians. For I-CAR to reach the entire industry, especially smaller shops, the cost of technical education must go down,” I-CAR wrote recently. “It’s just not sustainable for the shop,” I-CAR strategic Vice President Ann Gonzalez said Thursday.

Enough corporate sponsorship through the Sustaining Partner program will allow I-CAR to hold the cost of training steady for repairers – or possibly even lower that expense, the organization said. The Sustaining Partners might also provide enough subsidisation that I-CAR could lower or even end fees to vocational-tech schools who license I-CAR’s curriculum – speeding up the injection of new skilled technicians that the industry desperately needs.

Training is clearly necessary.

A 2016 I-CAR customer survey found that 94 percent of shops work on at least one vehicle per week with an advanced high-strength steel element, and 58 percent also see at least one vehicle per week with some aluminium. About 71 percent of shops receive weekly visits from at least one car with sensors or cameras related to an advanced safety system, according to I-CAR.

However, 58 percent of shops lack any discernible continuing education policies, I-CAR estimates. 2017 Collision Industry Conference surveys also revealed that even elite repair facilities might be providing far less training than the OEMs feel is necessary.

“As one industry, we must all adopt new approaches to closing the knowledge and skills gap,” I-CAR CEO John Van Alstyne said in a statement. “It falls on us right now to do the right thing for all involved in the collision repair industry: to ensure every person has the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs for the ultimate benefit of the consumer. The Sustaining Partner program is a new approach that will yield benefits for each participating organization and for our industry.”

There’s certainly an argument that the OEMs whose engineering feats make collision repair more complicated; the suppliers and IPs able to sell new products tied to that complexity; and the insurers, promoting that complexity through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), benefiting from safer vehicles, and yet demanding shops defend the ensuing repair procedures ought to throw repairers a bone and help subsidize proper training to keep up with the vehicles. In fairness, however, we should point out that some companies within those four industries do already spend thousands sponsoring educational events such as the Collision Industry Conference, NACE, NORTHEAST, and SEMA Repairer Driven Education or offering free training resources.

I-CAR also pointed out that encouraging a better-trained industry could help brand-loyalty for automakers and insurers and mitigate their liability. “Repair complexity is increasing, cost to repair is increasing, liability is a real business risk, access to properly trained talent is an increasing issue, and brand loyalty is a concern especially to MSOs, Insurers and OEMs. Now more than ever, proper education and use of technical information is required,” I-CAR wrote in a news release. “I-CAR is delivering measurable impact in these areas, helping all segments of the industry manage through these challenges and contributing better, more reliable performance and results.”

This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at: for this and many other informative and educational article on the collision repair industry.

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