TRAINING FOR TOMORROW
TECHNICAL TRAINING MANAGER ERIC KENAR ON THE EVOLUTION OF EXPERTISE
There was a time when automotive maintenance and repair came down to the nuts and bolts. But today, it can take up to 118 different interconnected computer systems to move a modern vehicle. That’s why General Motors Technical Training Manager Eric Kenar works to ensure that GMC Certified Service technicians have all the tools of today’s trade.
Kenar’s own experience guides that work. A General Motors World Class Technician, Kenar believes that a good training lead needs to have “been in the shoes” of other techs. And because a typical dealership employs a diverse roster of expert technicians certified at the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, there are a lot of shoes to consider.
There are also a lot for everyone to try on.
The programs Kenar oversees provide continuous “opportunity for development and growth,” both online and at 32 hands-on training sites throughout the United States. In addition to topics of routine maintenance, technicians study everything from engine performance and repair to automatic and manual transmission drivetrains, to diesel engines and GM-specific applications.
Bronze-, Silver- and Gold-level technicians can train toward becoming a Master Technician in up to 12 different categories, a significant achievement that requires a proctored, hands-on, timed assessment. Once technicians reach a certain level, they take additional courses each year to maintain their expertise.
The curriculum for all technicians is regularly updated, lately with electric vehicles (EVs) in mind. New training is already being developed for the forthcoming Hummer EV.
“That’s why technician training is so important. It needs to be fixed right the first time.”
While Kenar studied automotive technology in college and holds an MBA, he believes strongly in the potential of training-based continuing education, and of a more direct route to the service bay for those with a shared passion to “work together and fix it.”
One such path is the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (GM ASEP), from which approximately 400 aspiring technicians will graduate this year and start their careers with an associate degree from one of 50 participating community colleges.
“I started working on cars as a kid, before I could drive, and always liked working with my hands,” Kenar said. But “compared to 30 years ago, things are a lot more complex and require a high degree of electrical knowledge. It’s more like being a computer scientist in a lab.”
At today’s GMC Certified Service dealerships, even simple diagnostics are performed on laptops with GM-proprietary software, cutting down on guesswork and helping to ensure customer satisfaction.
“That’s why technician training is so important,” Kenar said. “It needs to be fixed right the first time.”
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