- *Training Standards – APTA has recognized the need to establish training standards for our industry. As a result, the APTA Bus Maintenance Training Standards Working Group has been formed to establish and recommend curriculum standards to benefit the training of our incumbent employees as well as perspective new employees. This process includes identifying transit specific standard work tasks and identifying the related training curriculum for those tasks. As part of the "Grow Our Own Process" we have to establish the criteria for transit specific skills and competencies for technical training institutions and colleges if they wish to be able to provide individuals with the necessary qualifications for our industry. Incumbent workers' skills must be enhanced as technology changes. The objective of the Bus Maintenance Training Standards Working Group is to establish and recommend training standards that, in a way, exceed the training required to pass the ASE test. The recommendations and or standards will be set to exceed the requirements of the ASE tests. The reason is clear; in order to have everyone properly trained, the level of training must go beyond your highest credential. Having industry training standards in place will prevent our industry from constantly re-inventing the training wheel. It will provide a valuable resource to smaller properties that may not have a training department.
- Training Resources – Delmar Publishing had shown a significant interest in publishing the ASE Transit Series Study Guides. We had requested from Delmar that we would like, if possible, to have transit individuals author, review and critique our study guides. The credential in the study guide is that it would be written by transit maintenance professionals to be used by transit maintenance professionals. Work will continue to constantly provide the training resources required for transit employees to obtain the highest level of skills and competencies needed for our industry.
As part of the training resources, through an initiative by the National Transit Institute (NTI), a program was developed to enhance the instructional skills of bus maintenance instructors in relationship to the ASE test learning process and the need to address the learning techniques as they apply to adult learners. The Training and Coaching Skills for Bus Maintenance Instructors: Preparing for ASE Certification is another step toward improving learning skills by establishing industry standards or recommendations in order to provide a better opportunity for success.
The important question is: How will the ASE credential be used? First, our industry has to accept and embrace it as both the standard as well as the credential of our industry. iwould just like to remind everyone that the ASE tests are not tests that anyone can pass as the process of question relevancy to challenging and recognizing skills and competencies is continual. Part of the scoring process requires that the questions identify and meet the standards required for certification of skills and competencies. Neither easy, nor hard questions are relevant to establishing skills and competencies or a credential. Keep in mind that both the process and organization are the same, whether it be in certifying a transit mechanic or your personal physician or lawyer.
Some transit properties have suggested using the ASE test questions to hire new employees. Since it is rare now to find qualified employees to meet our minimum hiring requirements, it will also be rare to find an individual from the external labor market to pass our industry's highest credential on initial hire. Again, it is a credential that identifies our "Top Guns" when it comes to transit maintenance. It will serve as our standard of recognition. You want to use the credential wisely.
Instead of a hiring tool, it should be used as a promotional or incentive tool. Again, training will be important in order for the individual to acquire the credential. Just having an employee take the test, without preparation, is just preparing an employee to fail and the value of the credential to be lost. The fact that the ASE process requires recertification every five years should be a point of consideration for some type of wage premium or incentive. The use of a wage premium or incentive would be a better motivator for success than threatening loss of job for failure to pass the test. Remember that old adage about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar?
The certification credential, whether it be ASE or in-house, does place the need for enhanced training to the forefront. However, it also places a new responsibility on the individual. Nothing is automatic; a certain amount of personal initiative and motivation are required. The individual must be willing to accept the responsibility and accountability of the credential, and in doing so it may be another reason to substantiate a wage premium or incentive.
On a different note, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established regulations regarding vehicle maintenance which are addressed in CFR 49, Parts 393/396. Section 396.17, identifies the qualifications of a vehicle inspector. The ASE Preventive Maintenance Inspection test should address and satisfy the requirement of this section.
Several other agencies such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have adopted and implemented standards for vehicle inspection. The North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria and North American Vehicle Inspection Standard relate vehicle maintenance procedures directly to safety. The FTA Transit Bus Safety Program, Task 3 - Development of a Model Transit Bus Safety Program identifies some specific procedures and tasks in transit vehicle maintenance that are directly related to safety. These vehicle areas or systems are identified on pages 13 and 14 of the document. The FTA Transit Bus Safety Program, Task 2 - Regulations and Oversight, Section III, Findings and Recommendations, identify the following areas as contributing to improving transit safety: