Colin Calder | Message modified by user UKAT5444 December 18, 2008, 6:05 pm
I was a marine engineer for seven years or so and since then have worked on all types of vehicles from plant and trucks to motorcycles and cars etc: and have been running my own small independant repair shop for the last twenty five years, where, I often take on jobs that other garages can't do even though their techs: have ATA etc: or they are members of one federation or another. Also some of the cars that I see that have been 'serviced' by main dealers are in a terrible state and yet the service books have been stamped and the customer has been well and truly charged for the privelege.
Don't get me wrong I'm all for good training and for constant improvement within the industry (which incidently is probably one of the most important industries in the WORLD, just think what would happen if ALL the mechanics stayed home. No trains or planes or cars or trucks or buses etc: etc .
In all the years that I have been in the industry there have nearly always been these problems and discussions as to qualification and regulation and kerbside repairs etc: but you will NEVER stop it until it becomes illegal for any 'non qualified' person to carry out repairs for anybody except themselves and they will have to realise that even if they carry out repairs to their 'own vehicle' that they would be liable in the event of any accident etc: that might result.
A good analogy here would be a gas engineer or a plumber who maybe very competent but not CORGI registered, he could fit a new boiler in his house and it may work perfectly and be perfectly safe but if he works on a boiler in somebodys house then he is actually breaking the law. This also seems to be the case in most other professions, doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers etc: etc: Most of these people will have had to have trained and reached a set standard which is regulated by their governing bodies and controlled within the law and RECOGNISED BY THE PUBLIC.
I would bet that the woman in the video who did'nt know what was under the bonnet also does'nt know what's inside her body bits or inside her gas boiler or even inside her washing machine but she will go to her doctor or call her corgi engineer or her domestic appliance engineer without a second thought and will she expect or get a transparent transaction or a fixed quote beforehand, I don't think so, do you?
So, what is the way forward? I think that there must be a set structure within the whole industry as there is within the aviation industry ( if you want to fly that jumbo jet then you first have to learn to fly and how the plane is constructed and your training and progress will be mapped out for you right through from when you start until you finally sit at those controls inside that jumbo ), that there must be one main governing body and that any seperate industry associations or institutes etc: will be under the umbrella of that body and not have different agendas.
Previous good qualifications like City and Guilds etc: should be recognised which at present does not seem to be the case as I notice that employers are demanding that prospective employees have to have an NVQ and do not seem to recognise previously high level qualifications. One of the other most important things that has to happen is that our status has to be recognised, as it is in Germany ( no more dirty handrag syndrome ). We are engineers just like 'heating engineers' or 'domestic appliance engineers' or 'heating and ventilation engineers' or 'building maintenance engineers' etc: etc: etc:
Thinking back we were almost there years ago when we had apprentiships and the good old C&G parts one and two and three and the option to then diversify towards ones chosen field be it bodywork or electrical or mechanical or insurance claims or plant or heavy vehicles and to then go on to gain IMI or IRTE or IPLANTE etc. The thing was that everybody had to learn the basics before they could move on so that even if their career changed direction completely they could still tighten a wheel nut and understood how a vehicle is constructed and how all the bits were relevant to each other and how they work.
A couple of classic examples of the problems in our industry are that some, (not all) MOT testers only know how to test the vehicle but don't really understand how it works ( should this wheel bearing have this much play (excess movement) in it? Should this handbrake lever pull up this far (insufficient reserve travel) on this vehicle? I could go on but I won't and when I was teaching and all the colleges were being closed down twenty odd years ago and I stood on the stage at some seminar or other and stated that we would lose our way and that our industry would suffer, everybody slated me and said that in the future all the vehicles would be computerised and that you would only need a computer engineer in a suit to plug in and diagnose the problems and that we would no longer need 'mechanics' only fitters! I was dismayed.
To a certain extent they were right as we can now see with the increasing use of computer controls, but it's not the man in the suit (he's probably a transport manager that can't change a wheel and who spends all day routing vehicles) that's having to deal with the computer systems or the seized up power steering or the electronic dashboard that's causing the problem it's the mechanics (VEHICLE ENGINEERS). At a school careers evening years ago I actually heard a schools careers teacher say " if you can't get into any of the decent jobs you want, you could always be a mechanic" and therein lies the problem. Perception ( dirty handrag syndrome again).
Hope this is not seen by anybody as sour grapes but I do often wish that I had chosen to be a bricklayer, at least I could have chucked ALL of my tools into a bucket and earned a grand a week and would not need premises. Oh, why is it that if you work in an office that you don't have to supply all your own tools? desk, computer, printer, copier, stapler etc: and yet VEHICLE ENGINEERS are expected to supply their own?
Anyway have to go now as somebody is SCREAMING about their car( what is it about the car and screaming?)
Colin Calder. (Now your local friendly taxi driver) MIMI AMSOE AMIRTE LCGI and probably more City and Guilds and other qualifications than you can shake a stick at.
Now, where's that bucket and trowel?
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