It’s no secret one of the largest challenges facing the collision repair industry is the need to find qualified entry-level technicians.
During ASA’s monthly Webinar Wednesday on Dec. 9, John Saia, consultant to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), discussed how "ASE Entry-Level Certification Helps Shop Owners Find New Talent,” by allowing entry-level candidates demonstrate their knowledge so shops can identify which are best qualified.
ASE’s entry-level certification is the first professional credential available for new technicians. Unlike ASE’s other certification levels, the entry-level certification does not have a work experience requirement since inexperienced students do not yet possess on-the-job abilities; it’s intended as a way for students enrolled in a technical training program to indicate their workforce readiness.
“There’s not a shortage of candidates,” Saia explained. “Based on student enrollment numbers, there’s a huge level of interest in an automotive career, but the pipeline leaks before they enter the workforce. The ASE entry-level certification provides a way for shop owners and managers to identify the students who are serious about their future in this industry.”
For employers and students, the ASE entry-level tests provide a credential that indicates workforce readiness and demonstrates their commitment to a career in the industry.
Students’ previous performance is also a great predictor of their future performance, and this test serves as a predictable gauge for their success with ASE professional-level certification once they’ve obtained workplace experience.
Saia offered advice to students: “Take the entry-level test seriously. It prepares you for your career, and it is an excellent experience that grooms you to be much more successful for professional-level ASE certifications. You’ll feel more comfortable taking the tests in the future.”
ASE offers three entry-level series test groups: automotive, collision and medium/heavy trucks.
Four tests are offered in the Collision Repair & Refinish series: Painting and Refinishing, Structural Analysis and Damage Repair, Non-Structural Analysis and Damage Repair, and Mechanical and Electrical.
Saia shared examples of...
...some of the tasks and specifications associated with the various tests.
The tests are proctored at the school by non-technical staff, and more than 1,400 schools administer more than 200,000 entry-level tests annually, with a pass rate that exceeds 50%.
Generally, the schools pay for the tests, which they use to evaluate students’ progress and growth in learning, and the test is an excellent metric for the program’s success, according to Saia.
Students can attempt any test in a series up to twice per school year, but they must wait at least 30 days to re-test after their initial attempt.
The school awards certificates to the students who successfully pass the entry-level test.
ASE’s entry-level certification test questions are reviewed every two to three years by up to 20 subject matter experts, 40% of whom are working practitioners. Facilitated by ASE technical staff, the entry-level test workshop follows the same process as all other ASE test question development workshops.
“It’s a stout test; it’s very comprehensive,” Saia said.
The entry-level certification expires after two years, and recipients are not eligible for recertification because, by that point, they should have progressed to the professional-level certification that designates them as an experienced working technician.
Learn more about ASE’s entry-level certification at ase.com/entry-level.
Registration for ASA’s future Webinar Wednesday series is available at asashop.org/webinars.