Technical Support, During COVID and Beyond
Just as 2020 was disruptive to the automotive aftermarket, it was a journey to the organization that certifies technicians who work in the industry.
Early in the year, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) learned that it would be dealing with closures. The test delivery platform vendor closed all of its test centers for a couple months, according to Trish Serratore, senior vice president of communications at ASE.
“The first thing we did was take everybody’s certification expirations and move them to the end of the year,” she says.
While expirations got pushed back, little else did. ASE got a lot done in 2020 that might have some impact on how you and your techs interact with the organization.
One newer offering from ASE should ease certification renewals a bit, particularly in a time when remote services are at a premium. ASE’s certification renewal app had been in beta testing prior to 2020 but moved ahead quickly.
Just using a phone, technicians looking to recertify their automotive credentials (A1 though A9) can complete the process via the app. Serratore says that ASE sends out one question per month, and they can be completed over a period of around eight months.
“It helped folks not having to go to a test center but could keep up to date with their ASE certifications,” Serratore says.
First-time certification testing isn't yet ready to be fully remote. Serratore says that it’s on the horizon for the organization, but it’s still working on a procedure.
“That’s a lot more complicated because of the security issues around it,” she says.
In 2020, four ASE automotive tests had been translated into Spanish for technicians who primarily speak the language. As of January A1 through A8 tests, as well as G1, have been translated, Serratore says.
“That’s really exciting. We had a lot of industry requests for Spanish language and we’re pleased to be able to support our partners with that.”
The final A series test, A9, should be translated by the end of 2021, Serratore says.
Additionally, the online home of ASE has received an update. The organization worked through 2020 to update the website, and that’s rolling out early this year.
“It will be fresher and newer and less type-heavy, and more graphical and much easier to navigate,” Serratore says.
The U.S. Army has used ASE professional-level tests for years to train service member technicians, but those tests related to American light-duty vehicles.
“That doesn’t always translate into tanks,” Serratore says. “So the Army came to us and said, ‘How about we develop a program that’s just wheeled vehicle and tactical vehicles for us.’”
ASE worked with officials at Fort Bragg and elsewhere to develop a three-tier program for service members to work specifically on military vehicles.
“The army was great about providing technical support for that,” Serratore says.
The military credential will be recognized by the private-sector industry as well, she added. ASE has heard from the Navy and Marines, which might also be interested in developing certification materials of their own.
Serratore encouraged shop owners to get involved with their local automotive education institutions, many of which are a part of the ASE Education Foundation. It has 2,300 accredited programs nationwide.
“What would be really wonderful is if they could engage at some level with those schools and those students,” Serratore says. “It could be as simple as a virtual tour of a shop or a virtual presentation to the program, as much as getting involved and being a part of an advisory council.”
Contact your local high school or college-level technical education center to lend your support and time.