Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2000   by CARS Magazine

Industry’s Commitment to CARS National Accreditation Program Of what benefit do you see the CARS National Accreditation program to industry?

Industry is the driving force behind the CARS National Accreditation Program and is a big reason for the program's success. The program's Board of Directors is committed to ensuring the future workfor...


Industry is the driving force behind the CARS National Accreditation Program and is a big reason for the program’s success. The program’s Board of Directors is committed to ensuring the future workforce has access to training programs that address the realities of a dynamic work environment. To-date, fifteen post-secondary motive power programs across Canada have been successful in challenging the rigorous evaluation requirements for the prestigious national accreditation status.

Murray Russell is the Manager of Program Development at General Motors of Canada Limited and recognizes the benefits of a national accreditation program. So much so, he has been involved with the CARS National Accreditation Program Board of Directors since day one and now serves as Vice-Chair to the Board! Recently, we asked Murray why industry is so committed to the national accreditation program and how he sees the program evolving in the future….

Of what benefit do you see the CARS National Accreditation program to industry?

I see several benefits to industry! When an employer sees that a potential candidate has attended an accredited institution they will be assured that the individual will have a background in the skills and knowledge needed to be successful. This factor will certainly make the hiring process easier! As employers become increasingly aware of the program they will see the value of hiring graduates of the accredited program.

What do you see as the benefits to students who attend an accredited post-secondary program?

Employability skills. An employer needs to feel assured that his employee has achieved the necessary degree of proficiency with their skills to communicate, problem solve and to work well with others as with their skills to diagnose and repair a vehicle.

When a post-secondary program goes through the accreditation process, part of the evaluation is to examine if employability skills are promoted to the students. Therefore, graduates of an accredited program will have had an opportunity to hone these skills, making them valuable future employees.

What kind of response have you received from those programs who have gone through the accreditation process?

To-date it has been very positive. Several teachers and administrators have commented that the evaluation has provided a real eye-opener as to what is working well and what needs to be improved. The accreditation process is rigorous and challenging but I believe those programs that have taken on the challenge see the end results as an enhancement to their program. They realize the marketing tool national accreditation status provides to them.

Has the accreditation program grown/ evolved since you first became active with the Board of Directors? How so?

The program has really progressed over the three short years it has been in existence. It is such a positive element for industry. I think the program has gained substantial experience and growth with each accreditation process completed. The process and evaluation standards have been modified and improved, based on these experiences, to ensure the program continues to meet industry’s and the trainee’s expectations.

What is the Board’s involvement with the accreditation process?

The Board is actively involved with the process. The Board reviews every application for accreditation and a decision is made as to whether the applicant is ready to challenge the evaluation. The program draws from a bank of industry people the Board members have recommended to put together an evaluation team who actually visit the site and carry out the evaluation. The evaluation team then submits a report, which the Board reviews. Based on the findings and recommendations, the Board makes a decision whether to grant national accreditation status. Whenever possible, a Board member will attend the presentation of the accreditation certificate and personally congratulate the institution.

Board members also review the program’s reference standards on a regular basis to ensure the elements continue to support industry’s requirements. So, as you can see, the Board meets frequently and has a very active role with the program. It’s busy but worthwhile!

Have you witnessed a change in the post-secondary training environments since the accreditation program began three years ago? If so, in what way?

I have witnessed a very positive change since the launch of the program. Post-secondary programs that have successfully received accreditation status have made improvements to not only their curriculum but to their facility and training environment. The Board can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an organized and clean training facility. People who choose to pursue a career in this industry need to take pride in their work as well as where they work. Professionalism includes a safe and clean work environment and this ethic needs to start in school.

Are there any changes you would like to see made to the accreditation program or the evaluation process?

The program and documentation has to survive the scrutiny of the Board of Directors at each meeting. We are all from industry and are stakeholders. Our meetings are quite often lively as we endeavor to improve the program, so, change is part of the program.

Has General Motors promoted the accreditation program features with its constituents?

We have learned from this program and have implemented our own accreditation program for our dealership training course materials, instructors and students. We feel it improves the quality of training and respect for the program.

For those interested in national accreditation of their Motive Power post-secondary training program, how do they start?

The first thing to do is contact the CARS National Accreditation program and request an information package, which includes the application. The phone number is (613) 798-0500. We have also launched a web site that provides information about the program as well as the accreditation process. Check it out at the CARS web site: www.cars-council.ca


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