Becoming an MOT Tester
This page replaces the section previously published on MOT Training.
DVSA have radically changed MOT Training. Tester training will be carried out by private training organisations; technical colleges, private training companies or even training departments of large businesses. The same will apply to 'MOT Manager' courses. There is also a replacement for the old five-yearly one-day refresher training process, now called MOT Annual Training. We’ve looked at what DVSA plans to do, and discussed it in some detail with Neil Barlow, MOT Scheme Manager, and Dave Easton DVSA’s Manager of Education.
The need for change
Yet the question has to be asked – why change anything? DVSA offer five reasons:
• To raise standards and professionalism
• The current model isn’t sustainable long term
• The current model is inflexible and in the “dark ages”
• DVSA have taken into account “direction of travel”
• The MOT industry was asking for more
Much of this is ‘politics speak’ – but in reality the Government probably want to shunt training costs from DVSA onto the MOT industry – and so it’s happening!
Nevertheless training did need changing, as evidenced by the poor quality of MOT Testing shown in DVSA’s regular ‘Compliance Reports’.
So what, exactly, are DVSA doing?
Raising ‘National Occupational Standards’ for MOT Testing
DVSA’s ‘in-house’ Tester training system was outside the mainstream automotive industry’s training arrangements. So, to privatise MOT training, first they had to develop, in conjunction with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and the MOT Trade, appropriate National Occupational Standards (NOS), for the planned Awards – essential for the qualifications to become Nationally ‘approved’.
They started with the automotive National Occupational Standards for vehicle technician service and repair, and for automotive aftermarket managers and adapted them for MOT Testing purposes. From those Standards, a training syllabus was produced for training organisations to adhere to in their MOT Training courses.
This benefits the MOT industry. Becoming a Tester will no longer be a ‘closed shop’, because ‘nomination’ by a Test Station will no longer be necessary to become a Tester. New Testers can have their final ‘observed test’ by a DVSA Vehicle Examiner carried out at the organisation who provided their training. If successful, new Testers can work at a Testing Stations straight away.
How MOT Training will work…
Having decided on the content of the ‘Standards’ for both MOT Testers and Managers, three ‘Awarding Organisations’, the IMI, ABC Awards and City and Guilds will award Certificates to the successful MOT Tester and Manager candidates who will have attended MOT training courses at colleges or other organisations ‘approved’ by an Awarding Organisations. Three specific MOT qualifications have been created:
1. An Award in MOT Testing
2. An Award in MOT Motorcycle Testing
3. An Award in Managing an MOT Test Centre
Of these, the motorcycle MOT Testing Award is completely new – there has not been a Motorcycle Tester training course before.
Monitoring and controlling training quality is crucial. Each ‘Awarding Organisations’ is responsible to ensure their ‘approved training centres’ are quality controlled to the standard required by the Government’s Office of Qualifications and Examination Regulation, (Ofqual). DVSA do, however reserve the right to do their own quality checks – but on this, DVSA’s Neil Barlow said, “…direct intervention will be minimal…”.
An NTTA replacement, and a new Tester training Syllabus
DVSA’s NTTA exam for experienced but unqualified technicians to sit prior to acceptance for Tester Training is now dropped, and as yet there’s no alternative course for such people. That’s problematic for ‘NTTA’ Testers who, after a short disciplinary suspension must re-sit an NTTA check before returning to Testing – with no NTTA what can they do? On this, Barlow said, “…we’re looking into alternatives to the NTTA, but in the circumstances you describe we’ll expect Testers to demonstrate having taken action to address the deficiencies resulting in that short suspension, before returning to Testing”.
Dave Easton explained that DVSA are looking to enhance Tester Training beyond what they offer, adding, “the new syllabus will include issues regarding, “ethics, safe working practices, and working relationships, both with fellow staff and customers”.
Having set the National standards, to include such issues, the IMI/DVSA have developed a syllabus for each of the three types of MOT training courses which will be on offer – links to these may now be found on the MOT Testing website here.
The new syllabus for Testers has five sections:
MOTT01: Safe working practices at the test centre.
MOTT02: Working relationships at the test centre.
MOTT03: Manage own professional development as an MOT Tester.
MOTT04: Carry out pre-test checks for a vehicle test.
MOTT05: Carry out a vehicle test.
Looking at the detail, its surprising that much of the Tester Training is taken up with issues like ‘Health and Safety’ which most pre-qualified candidate Testers will already have been taught. We spoke to the IMI’s Ian Gillgrass about this, and he noted that sections of the course on which candidates are already qualified will be deemed as ‘Accredited Prior Learning’, so they won’t have to do it again.
|Neil Barlow, DVSA’s MOT Scheme Manager (left), and Dave Easton Manager of Education discussed their training plans with us in some detail.|
Previously DVSA staff have carried out MOT Training, but who will do the training in future?
MOT Testing is different from most activities requiring training. A novice driver having passed the driving test can, for a while, drive on quiet roads before driving into city centres, and on dual carriageways before tackling motorways; and newly qualified automotive technicians do simple jobs first to gain experience before taking on complex problems.
For new MOT Testers there’s no option. They are expected, immediately after qualifying to Test any vehicle presented to them, no matter how unusual, complex or sophisticated. So its important that MOT trainers are not only qualified Testers, but also have first hand experience of MOT Testing in the same commercial environment as the trainees they are teaching will face after qualifying; it is vital to impart a broader understanding and experience of what MOT Testing means in the ‘real world’.
And if MOT trainers don’t have that experience, it’s a problem. Here’s who DVSA say can qualify to become MOT Tester trainers – the must have either:
Proven competence in the delivery of Motor Vehicle Skills and Knowledge and have evidence that they are either current or lapsed MOT Testers.
Proven competence in the delivery of Motor Vehicle Skills and Knowledge and, have been awarded the ‘Qualification in MOT Testing’ (having met the eligibility requirements).
It is difficult to see how trainers falling into the latter category could be in a position to properly train new MOT Testers – they may have only just completed the course with no practical Testing experience at all. We raised this with Easton and Barlow. They suggested that in practice such novitiate Testers would be unlikely to be considered for training jobs, and it was unlikely to be a problem. We disagreed and suggested that perhaps they should add a further requirement like, “subject to appropriate experience of MOT Testing being demonstrated”, or words to that effect. Easton said he would consider that.
Finally here, there is to be no formal ‘Tester Trainer’ qualification for those carrying out the work at colleges – something of an oversight in our view.
DVSA’s ‘Observed’ Test – the VT8
Fortunately the DVSA have decided to reserve the right to conduct that final ‘Observed Test’ required before a Tester becomes ‘active’, which can be done at the training college. Given that DVSA will no longer be directly involved in MOT training, and seem to be likely to take a ‘light touch’ when it comes to checking up on the training colleges, that VT8 takes on much greater importance if Tester quality is to at least be maintained, and, hopefully, improved.
It is rumoured that an, ‘enhanced’ VT8, will be developed. If so, we wholeheartedly agree. The current VT8 can be done on any vehicle, which could be, for example a car that is easy to Test. We believe that following a successful VT8 observation by the Vehicle Examiner, to ensure that the new Tester has the broader knowledge required, that there should also be a more extensive ‘question and answer’ session than is currently the case to confirm the Tester’s broader knowledge and understanding when inspecting more complex vehicles.
On this, Dave Easton said, “…yes, we intend to develop the VT8 similarly to the driving Test where a major error results in a fail, as would a number of minor errors, and even successful candidate would be told of any minor errors”, and on the issue of wider ranging questions, Barlow agreed, noting, “I think that’s where we should be going”.
The enhanced VT8 should also be used by DVSA as a quality control loop. If they consistently get poor Tester graduates from a particular college, this should be reported back to the Awarding Organisations who could then intervene, or perhaps even suspend the college’s ‘Authorisation’ to train Testers. Barlow and Easton confirmed this to be the case, but not necessarily set up as a formal procedure.
The MOT Manager Award
Here are the elements involved in the DVSA’s proposed MOT Test Centre Management Award:
MOTM01: Managing the Legislative and Compliance requirements of a Vehicle Test centre
MOTM02: Dealing with customer service problems within a Test Centre
MOTM03: Developing and supervising staff within a Test Centre
MOTM04: Test Centre quality systems and quality audits
This is a new qualification which, Dave Easton emphasised will be more comprehensive than the old AE course which was largely about how Managers could source data from the system to assess MOT quality.
He said, “the new course is still being developed, but we want to place the emphasis on the Manager’s responsibilities and the importance of taking an ethical view of managing a Testing Station – as well as maintaining Test quality”.
Whilst DVSA’s first priority is to establish and complete the pilot MOT Tester courses, the Manager’s course will soon be finalised, and it too will go through a ‘pilot’ process.
Piloting the new Tester qualification
For Tester Training, the project commenced on 1st April with a three stage process with two initial pilot training courses supported by DVSA, for which the trainees will not actually receive a qualification on completing the course, but will be ‘converted’ to become qualified Testers at a later stage.
The initial pilot scheme will be ‘in-house’ training by a large organisation involved in MOT Testing. The pilot course will be fully supported by DVSA staff. The second pilot will run from 2nd May, it will also be supported by the DVSA, but will be with prospective commercial MOT Training providers.
At the successful conclusion of the two pilot schemes the new MOT Tester Qualification will be ‘switched on’ and any candidates entering the new Tester Training system will receive full ‘MOT Tester’ status after a successful VT8 observed Test.
Adequate Training Centres?
Historically, DVSA expect the new system to train up to 7,000 Testers a year, but it’s quite likely that demand will significantly increase when the requirement to be ‘nominated’ by a VTS is dropped. The guys at DVSA also believe that the MOT Manager and Tester Training courses will most likely be integrated into current Automotive Technician ‘level 3’ courses so most students emerging from Automotive Training colleges could well already be fully qualified MOT Testers having passed DVSA’s VT8 check. So in time most qualified automotive technicians will also be qualified Testers. That would be of great benefit to the MOT Trade – provided, of course, that Tester quality is maintained, despite the greater numbers qualifying.
Also, more technicians working in non-MOT garages will better understand the difference between a service and an MOT.
We also asked if DVSA had any idea of the cost of MOT Training. On this Easton noted that until the whole scheme was fully up and running that would be difficult to estimate as it would be up to each training provider and how they pitched their business model. He was adamant, however, that the pricing structure should be “transparent”, so it would not be ‘bundled’ up with other training unnecessary for the MOT to ‘up-sell’ other courses.
Overall, given the Government imperative to privatise MOT Training, the model DVSA have opted for should provide satisfactory results. The only reservations we have concern DVSA’s determination to be relatively uninvolved in quality assurance at the colleges, and the lack of information as to how the trainers are to be trained, and their required pre-qualification and experience. There should be at least an ‘approved syllabus’ to train MOT Trainers, and perhaps even a specific qualification – neither of which is planned.
As far as we can gather the only real ‘objective’ quality assurance (the Awarding Bodies won’t be MOT experts), is DVSA’s final VT8, which they do intend to ‘enhance’, but have yet to decide on exactly how it will look – perhaps we’ll hear more after the pilot courses have been completed.
Information will be added to this section as the new training format continues to roll out.