Debra Levy is president of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) and managing director of Auto Glass Week. She recently fielded a series of questions from Aftermarket Business World about the importance of proper training for glass repair and replacement technicians and other aspects of the industry.
A: Enough qualified technicians? No, there are not.
Q: What steps are being taken to attract new technicians?
A: A number of quality glass companies have started offering “internships” to high school students and have worked with graduates and returning veterans to provide the training necessary to be a technician.
Q: What are the typical qualities that you look for in a glass technician candidate?
A: The pendulum on this has really changed. Years ago, companies would most likely hire a “car guy” and teach him about glass and customer service. Most companies today find they have greater success hiring “people” people and training them about glass installation. In many ways, auto glass replacement is a service industry.
Q: Do you recommend that shop owners look to their local high schools and vocational training centers to recruit suitable candidates? Are speakers available to reach out to instructors or their students? What are the career benefits of being a glass technician?
A: Glaziers have been identified by the U.S. government as one of the professions expected to experience shortages in workers. Getting a local vocational-technical school interested in such a program is a great way to grow, and there has been a fair degree of success using that method. Being an auto glass technician is the job of a true professional – one of a safety professional who is often a first responder as well.
Q: How critical is it for technicians to obtain suitable training for glass installation?
A: It’s vital. The windshield is a part of a vehicle’s safety system and it’s imperative that it be installed correctly. And the vehicle systems are changing so rapidly that it is important that technicians stay current in their knowledge.
Q: Are the training programs typically directed at glass specialists, or should technicians at collision repair shops and mechanical repair shops also obtain professional training?
A: AGSC offers a number of different training programs. One is for insurers so they learn and understand the importance of glass installation when serving our mutual customers. A second is for the technicians who actually install the glass, and AGSC will be debuting a training program for CSRs (customer service representatives) within the next year.
Q: What are some of the details of your certification program?
A: AGSC has two distinct certification programs. One is for installers and one is for companies. The Technician Certification program requires the successful passage of a test in order to qualify. There is also a Master Certified Technician level as well.
The company certification program is called the AGSC Registered Member program. It is the most innovative thing I’ve see in the collision repair industry. AGSC Registered Members actually undergo vigorous random audits by outside auditors who review their systems to make sure installations are performed in accordance with industry standards and they audit each technician’s work by watching them do an installation. It’s an amazing program. You can find AGSC Registered Members by going to safewindshields.org and putting in your ZIP code.
Q: What is the impact of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) on the glass installation process?
A: The impact is still being assessed. There are a number of different systems out there, some passive and some dynamic, and each will require different actions by those engaged in auto glass replacement.
Q: Where can shop owners obtain glass installation training for their technicians?
A: AGSC offers periodic training throughout the country. Additionally, there are a number of private training companies that provide this information. We recommend you always look for training programs that are “AGSC Registered Training Programs.” The list is on the AGSC website.
AGSC also will provide customized training to groups of 20 or more, and you can contact the AGSC office for more information about this. Urethane manufacturers also offer training about the proper use of their products.
Q: Should repair shop owners also obtain training in this field?
A: If by repair shop owner you mean collision repair, yes. The more education you have, the more you can assess whether this is work you want to do yourself or work you prefer to subcontract to a glass company. And if you choose the latter, the training will help you choose a good company.
Q: Should warehouse distributors and their counter people also obtain training to assist in answering their shop-customer’s questions?
A: Yes. The more highly educated their staff, the more they can assist their customers and ultimately help assure that a proper installation job will be done.
Q: Is glass distributed by specialized glass distributors, or is it also handled by typical automotive WDs?
A: There are some exceptions but, for the most part, glass is handled by specialized glass distributors.
Q: Who should attend Auto Glass Week?
A: Auto Glass Week 2016, to be held Oct. 5-7 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, has something for everyone with involvement in the auto glass industry – manufacturers, distributors, auto glass retailers, researchers, technicians, insurers and other buyers of auto glass services. It’s a great way to learn about current technology as well as watch the competitions for the best installers in the world. Auto Glass Week also offers AGSC certification training and testing during the week.
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