It's taken a long time—probably too long—but the retail segment of the tire industry finally may get a program for training and certifying tire technicians and other employees. A new training and certification program developed jointly by the Tire Association of North America and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) not only promises such benefits but will provide them in a manner that won't require employees to travel far from the workplace.
This ground-breaking concept merits close examination, not only by dealers but the tire industry at large.
The Internet-based program—aimed initially at retail tire technicians but ultimately to be expanded to include other dealership employees—will be unveiled at TANA's Las Vegas convention, Nov. 2-6. It is designed to train and certify workers within their own communities and at their own pace.
TANA has secured an agreement with Kinko Copy Centers to provide Internet access to would-be participants who don't have such capability readily available to them.
The Reston, Va.-based association also is arranging for local administration of the examinations participants must pass in order to receive ASE certification.
Some type of hands-on training also is contemplated in the case of tire service workers.
In offering such training, TANA and ASE are addressing a major need on the part of all tire dealerships. Dealers, who for years have struggled with finding and keeping qualified employees, ought to greet this new program with enthusiasm.
New hires at dealerships frequently come to their jobs knowing little about tires. Yet the work they perform is critical to tire safety and performance.
Often, such workers receive minimal on-the-job instruction—usually from an "experienced" employee who may or may not have had formal training in mounting, demounting, balancing and other aspects of tire service.
We encourage dealers and other tire retailers to welcome and support this program as a practical and economical way to train and certify their tire service workers.
Meanwhile, TANA, too, will gain from offering this new program. The association has long needed a benefit of this magnitude to justify the cost of membership to dealers.
A counterpart to this program—one for training and certifying the skills and knowledge of commercial tire technicians—is offered by the Louisville, Ky.-based International Tire and Rubber Association.
Now in its second year, the commercial tire technician training program has enhanced the ITRA's standing within the industry and fortified its dealer membership base.
If properly carried out, TANA's new retail training program could do equally well.