Do you know the biggest challenge when it comes to training?

Because vehicles are becoming more and more sophisticated, the need to keep technicians trained and their skill levels high is increasing.

For training to be effective, it is essential to first identify training needs, says Dave Milne, president of the Automotive Training Managers Council ( That means identifying knowledge gaps.

"The biggest challenge is not knowing what we don't know," he said in his address to the SOLD (Service Opportunities and Learning Day). This was a day-long program especially designed for shop owners and managers that was held prior to the opening of this year's Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW).

Once knowledge gaps are known, the next step is to look for a good training program - one that will insure get a reasonable return on the money invested, Milne said.

When considering a training program, he recommended looking for certain elements. Among them:

  • Does the training provider clearly state the knowledge and skills that the trainees will learn as a result of its training?
  • Does the provider list any materials or takeaways associated with the instruction, for example PowerPoint reproductions, workbooks, online resources, etc.?
  • How is the training delivered: instructor led, hands-on, online, self-study, etc.? Is this method convenient and affordable for your trainees?
  • What methods will be used to quantify the results of the training against the intended outcome?

I would add another important component to effective training programs - perception.

Typically, we get more out of training when we believe it will help us in some way. Therefore, training programs need to relate to the actual tasks and skills technicians need to continue to be proficient at their jobs.

Furthermore, it is also important that understand why we are taking the training and how it directly impacts our jobs and careers.