AGA Auto Glass Training Program
An auto glass training program. Is this what the Australian windscreen industry really needs, or does it just need an ethical clean up?
You should be aware that in Australia the auto glass industry is unregulated. This means anyone can subscribe to a network as a contractor and start work.
So how does the unsuspecting public know if they can trust the repairer that they have selected. Alternatively, how do they know if they can trust the repairer that their insurance group has selected for them?
The Auto Glass Association
The Auto glass association (AGA) was formed in 2013 an attempt to clean up the industry. In their own words “to lift the standards of the windscreen industry”.
The AGA consists of several large corporations and a mix of the smaller local independents. That in many cases contract to the larger ones. In addition, the AGA has several product suppliers that pay the $8k+ for a seat on the committee.
The AGA proposes that the auto glass industry requires direction and certification. With their guidance the auto glass industry will be a better place to work. In addition, a safer more regulated place for the motorist to shop.
AGA Proposed Auto Glass Training
So after several years of operation how is the AGA doing?
The AGA proposes that by implementing an auto glazier training program the industry will be sanitized of poor quality workmanship. However, this requires every technician to attend TAFE to study modules based on the fundamentals of auto glazing.
Seems like a fair proposal, so why would we want to question it?
Many of the technicians operating their own business today have been doing so for many years. In fact I am yet to meet one that has been installing auto glass for less than 15 years.
With this in mind, what are these technicians going to learn from a fundamentals of auto glass at TAFE.
Now you may be saying to yourself “Well, it can’t do any harm, so why not enroll in TAFE anyway?” Well there are many reasons and I will point out a few.
Expense, these programs cost money and for what in return for your business exactly?
The certificates that are obtained are elementary and have zero industry recognition. Then there is your time, many hours that could have been better served being productive elsewhere.
What about the principle. Why would you spend your time and money to study a course that has little value. Especially as the committee who are instructing you to do so are falsely claiming authority over you.
I speak from experience. I completed Level 4 of a 4 certification program back in 1998. The entire program was completed in a little over 1 year. So I was considered level 4 which was the highest order, with only 1 years experience.
Since I have been down this path before, i don’t intend on going there again.
This image below is for fun, im not stating technicians are suckers. However, I am saying that the proposed program has no recognition and is not worth the paper it is written on.
Experience is the true gauge of training
Lets not dismiss auto glass training altogether. For new starters and trainees there could be some value. However, its important to point out trainees are not small business owners.
Trainees generally work for the larger organisations who have the funds to carry and coach them. So you could say that the majority of the inexperienced technicians work for the larger groups.
Lets suppose i’m incorrect and training is needed by all small business owners. If this is true, then insurance groups should consider this skills gap when they “recommend a repairer“. I know when I “recommend” someone it’s a priority they have the skills for the task in hand.
Opinion aside, suppose you are a company who have decided that auto glass training is the solution. How is it currently working out for you and your employees?
Windscreen Short Cuts are The Problem
I personally work as a field technician so I spend time out and about. In doing so I get to randomly witness other technicians in the field installing windscreens. When I do I often stop to observe from a distance. It’s not uncommon to see technicians taking major unsafe short cuts, I have witnessed it many times over.
It may also come as a surprise that in many cases these technicians are employees of businesses who are members of the AGA. In addition they are also on the “Recommended List” of insurance groups.
I could link this Blog to Facebook posts were AGA members advertise and unsafe short cut methods are being practiced. With the introduction of handheld smart phone devices. It appears we have given people enough rope to hang themselves without the need to point fingers.
So how is the certification program working out so far? It would appear not so well.
Now i’m not suggesting that AGA members are instructing staff to take shortcuts to save time and money. However, what I am suggesting is that no amount of training can change the ethics of an employee.
If an employee wants to get though the day quicker, then short cuts will be taken. Unfortunately they can’t teach this out of you at TAFE, it would appear.
Conflict of interest
Could it be possible that auto glass training program is designed to give everyone a false tick of approval.
You know, like what the Heart Foundation do with it’s “healthy tick of approval” on food packages. They stamp that thing everywhere, even on chips, margarine and oil. Seems if you fund their program, you get their approval.
It is a benefit for networks to be seen recruiting the services of only “certified technicians” to obtain insurance contracts.
Insurance groups gravitate towards certification, it looks good on the self assessment. In additon, it diverts liability and makes it appear they care, all good selling points.
If a group/network is certified then its far more appealing for an insurance group to contract with the group. It’s just an observation.
So is auto glass training the solution?
For me, it’s a quick and simple no, i’ve been there before.
Service 8® Auto Glass believe the vast majority of technicians already know how to perform safe installations. Technicians are also aware they should not take unsafe short cuts to save time.
We know these things, however, many technicians still choose to make unethical choices.
There are many technicians who take short cuts, use untested products and have the “tick of approval” from insurance groups. This is confusing the unsuspecting public and is the cause of many industry problems.
Like passing a driving test and obtaining a driving licence does not mean you will not commit traffic offences. Completing an auto glass certification does not ensure the technician will not take short cuts.
Human Ethics Is whats Required
What’s really required here is an “Ethical Clean Up”. Technicians taking short cuts that compromise safety should be dismissed.
Small businesses taking short cuts should be exposed and terminated from insurance contracts. This is a culture of short sighted individuals that are causing most of the problems in the industry.
Corporation management should not be able to hide behind the brand. Stating clerical errors as the cause and holding nobody to blame should not be accepted. We are talking about safety issues here.
Businesses taking short cuts severely damage the industry. They do this by undercutting the prices of repairers using safe methods that cost more and take longer to install.
This confuses the public into believing a job that is quick and cheap is a good thing. “cheap and quick”, are not indicators of quality, however, they do go hand in hand. A cheap job is generally quick for a reason.
But don’t expect change any time soon. Why? Because when it comes to making a profit and doing the wrong thing, the person in charge always seems to be looking the other way.
Network managers will always turn a blind eye so long as the job gets done on time and under budget. It’s how they preserve their place in the scheme of things.
As H.L Mencken once pointed out. “It’s difficult to get a person to understand something when their income depends on them not understanding it”.