MOT Workshop 47 – MOT Training

 

Part 2.

In part one of our ‘Spotlight on…” piece about training, VOSA confirmed the strange situation whereby unqualified Authorised Examiners were expected to supply fully trained Testers for formal ‘Training’ by VOSA – yet there are no ‘approved’ MOT training courses, and not even a published syllabus for VOSA’s own so called ‘Tester Training course’. In part two we’ll have a look at refresher training and ongoing Tester training – asking “what more could be done?”, and also vitally, how Testing Stations are expected to fund the cost of pre-training Testers for VOSA’s course.

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Refresher training

In theory every MOT Tester should attend a two day VOSA MOT ‘Refresher training course’ every five years, and, according to the Guide, failure to do so, could mean being ‘locked-out’ of the MOT Computer. Yet if you think about it two days refresher training every five years is woefully inadequate. There’s been a big increase in the number of ‘testable items’ after recent EU changes, and 45 Special Notices over the last five years, that’s a lot of ‘catching-up’ in just two days…

Unfortunately there’s just not enough money for VOSA to offer more frequent refresher training. And with the fee now frozen for five years and discounting rife, Testing Stations would struggle to fund additional training and there’s nothing allowed for it in the MOT Fee anyway.

Significantly increasing refresher training, and improving Tester training generally, is something the MOT Trade Forum have urged the DfT and VOSA to do, and suggested a new ‘ring-fenced’ training fund from a ‘slot fee’ increase as part of their ‘MOT fee review’ presentation to Government. So far, there’s been no response at all to the idea, and the fee review is now in ‘freeze frame’ (see Testing Times).

Training – value, cost, and payment

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With inadequate refresher training, ‘in-house’ training and advice from quality controllers takes on much greater importance – but, perversely, even if documented, doesn’t improve your ‘risk-score’.

Few would disagree that in any ‘professional’ or ‘technical’ activity, good training is key to quality performance. In almost every modern trade or profession there are valuable, quality training processes built in to that commercial sector – and funding mechanisms to ensure that the people involved are trained to the very highest level, kept up to date, and perform their duties to a high quality.

Yet, perhaps uniquely, the MOT Testing Scheme stands out as an exception. There’s nothing at all in the MOT fee received by Testing Stations (and ‘approved’ by the DfT) to provide for any training costs – it has to be assumed, therefore, that VOSA provide all Tester Training from the ‘slot-fee’. Yet VOSA’s ‘high handed’ attitude denies that. They say they don’t train Testers at all, and that it’s for Authorised Examiners to train new Testers. Well, that just doesn’t wash when there’s no funding in the fee to cover the costs involved!
I have said this so often before, that even I’m bored of hearing it. The MOT does not ‘belong’ to the Motor Trade – it is the Government’s Scheme and their responsibility.

Frankly the current situation regarding training is a disgrace, and both the Vehicle Operating Services Agency, and the Department for Transport should be taking the quality of MOT Testing, and the training of Testers much more seriously – and do something about it!

We spoke again to Ian Gillgrass about progress of a formal MOT Tester standard set by the industry with the cooperation of the DVSA and the IMI, and he said there had been progress, “after talks with DVSA Executives, some options are to be put to the DVSA Board of Directors to jointly agree a standard for MOT Tester competence. It is anticipated that this will be considered some time during late July, to early August.”

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This is a very encouraging sign – so hopefully, the efforts of ourselves and others in the MOT industry to provide some impetus to developing an ‘Approved Standard’ for MOT Training will soon bear fruit.

We asked VOSA if we could interview someone at VOSA about MOT Training. They said “no!”, but suggested, we put our questions to them. In part 1 of this article we published their responses to our questions about the MOT ‘training course’, and its content – here are the answers to other queries we had:

Q: To pre-qualify for attendance on VOSA’s ‘Nominated Tester training course’, requires either a formal qualification, or successfully sitting VOSA’s own NTTA test. How many took that test over the past three years, and what was the pass rate?
A: VOSA does not collate this information

Q: Not long ago, VOSA announced that the NTTA course would be discontinued. This policy was reversed. What is the current situation, and what are the plans for the future?
A: VOSA are currently reviewing the process

Q: Some years ago… a ‘Research and Development’ section at VOSA, looked at MOT Training with the objective of school leavers being able to take on a course enabling them to become MOT Testers. What happened to those plans, and why is it still impossible for a school leaver to take a training course to become an MOT Tester?
A: VOSA are currently reviewing the process

Q: In his recent interview, Neil Barlow said that training was being reviewed. When will that review be completed, and what is the underlying objective against which the outcome will be judged?
A: The initial outcome of the review is due in the Spring of 2014 (now early August 2014) – and we will be able to share the options wider at that stage. VOSA’s priority is to ensure that people working in the scheme have the right skills and knowledge to conduct MOTs to the right quality, whilst minimising the burden on the trade – ensuring there are routes into the scheme for those with a variety of qualifications and experience – independent of whether they are currently employed by a garage.

Look at the last phrase of the last response, “ – irrespective of whether they are currently employed by a garage.” That’s interesting, suggesting VOSA intend to create a situation whereby a school leaver can become an MOT Tester without being nominated by an AE – I wonder how that will work…?

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