Editor Jim Punter, an AE for over 40 years, and in years gone by an MOT Tester, provides an insight into the new MOT Training arrangements for Testers and MOT Managers – including Site Managers and AEs.
This year MOT Training has been revolutionised. Since the inception of the MOT Testing Scheme in the late 1950s and early 1960s, MOT Training has been carried out directly by the Government. Originally Tester Training was a simple one-day course, later extended to three days after the MOT was first computerised in 2005.
Some years after the MOT was first introduced, Authorised Examiner training also became compulsory as well as a required five-yearly one-day refresher course. All ‘required’ MOT training was provided by the Government and funded from the slot fee. As of this year MOT training now operates independently of DVSA, and is fully privatised…
New National Occupational Standards (NOS)
The MOT Testing Scheme is unique. There is no other example in our society wherein thousands of small commercial businesses, as well as larger national companies, local councils, ambulance services and even some police forces, offer a commercial service to the general public, which is totally defined and controlled by the Government via its agency, hitherto VOSA, now DVSA.
Now, for the first time the Government’s grip on the MOT Scheme has loosened.
A fundamental step was the development of two National Occupational Standards for MOT Testers and MOT Managers. This facilitated the setting up of independent commercial training. A further change was breaking the link between Testing Stations and trainee Testers, the latter no longer needing to be employed by a Test Station and ‘nominated’ to become Testers.
Fundamental change for Testers…
This has signalled a fundamental change in the status of MOT Testers. Now, any appropriately qualified and experienced technician can train and qualify as a Tester in his or her own right. They can enrol at a college for Tester Training – and if successful, immediately apply for employment as an MOT Tester.
Also, unlike the old 5-yearly refresher training where DVSA summoned Testers to attend, the new ongoing training is now the personal responsibility of every Tester, both to complete the mandatory minimum of three hours annual training (16 hours over five years) and to successfully undergo an annual online test, for which the pass score is 50%. ‘Refresher training’ no longer applies.
For AEs it is both in their interest and best practice to modify their Testers’ contracts of employment to include a responsibility that Testers do their required ongoing training and take, and pass, that annual online test.
It would also be good practice for employers to put in place processes making it easier for Testers to carry out and record their personal ongoing training activities and flag up in advance the need to take their test.
Whilst the system beds in, DVSA may be soft on those who fail or miss the deadline. In the longer run however, either missing the deadline or getting less than a 50% pass could result in disciplinary action, perhaps even a temporary suspension.
Privatised training and annual tests
To sum up, there are now three new MOT training regimes, together with an annual online ‘test’ which all Testers must pass every year:
• MOT Tester training
• MOT Manager training
• Ongoing MOT Tester training
(also called Continuous Professional Development – CPD).
The formal training for Testers and Managers will be delivered by commercial colleges or training businesses who will have had their syllabuses, and ability to successfully deliver the training, quality assured by one of three approving bodies (approved by the DVSA). They are:
• City and Guilds
• ABC training,
• The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).
The annual tests for Testers will be set by the approving bodies themselves and accessible directly on their own websites. DVSA’s only direct involvement will be to carry out an ‘observed Test’, their so called VT8, to ensure successful trainees are competent to qualify as Testers.
DVSA Monitoring of training quality
It is for DVSA to ensure that the three ‘awarding bodies’ properly monitor the colleges or commercial training centres affiliated to them.
So what are they doing to achieve that, and ensure the new privatised MOT Training Scheme is, ‘up to scratch’? Here’s what they said:
“The awarding organisations are responsible for delivering the regulated qualification and carry out quality assurance in line with Ofqual requirements. DVSA checks the quality of the courses through:
• the Tester assessment process (VT8) [conducted by DVSA’s VEs… Ed.]
• complaints and customer feedback
• DVSA observations
DVSA staff have recently been observing a large number of courses – and have given feedback on areas for improvement to the training providers and awarding organisation… overall we are happy with the quality of the courses we’ve observed”
They have, however, raised some concerns “over detail or content”. In similar vein we asked about DVSA monitoring of those annual ‘tests’ for Testers. They said:
“DVSA will check the quality of all questions. In recent weeks DVSA has given feedback to the awarding organisations on a number of areas for improvement on questions and we are confident that they are responding positively to our concerns.”
So it looks like DVSA are ‘on the ball’, and keeping an eye on the awarding bodies and the colleges, which is good, especially as the system is only just up and running.
Previously, trainee Testers already working in a Test Station should have had at least some familiarity with the MOT Test, and even been given personal guidance by MOT Testers working in the business – and may even have acted as an ‘Assistant’ during Testing.
In the new system, however, many trainees will have had their four years’ experience in the industry at vehicle service and repair businesses which do not have a Test lane. Employers should look out for that on applicants’ CVs – which doesn’t necessarily mean they are not good Testers – just that they will have limited experience.
MOT Manager ‘National Occupational Standard’
Historically it’s been compulsory to have successfully attended DVSA’s AE training course before becoming an ‘Authorised Examiner’.
So far we have heard very little about the new MOT Manager course supplanting the old ‘AE course’ also now delivered commercially. It too now has a National Occupational Standard. DVSA have provided us with some details:
The course lasts at least 16 hours and the areas covered are:
• Managing the legislative and compliance requirements of a Vehicle Testing Station
• Dealing with customer service problems and complaints
• Developing and supervising staff within a Test centre
•Test centre quality systems and audits
I hope the new courses replicate the quality and depth of those run previously by VOSA and DVSA – good AEs are as important as good Testers in the MOT Scheme. MOT Managers are not required to undergo either ‘ongoing training’, or sit an annual test.
Refresher training becomes ‘CPD’
There’s been much confusion about the training arrangements replacing the old five-yearly ‘Refresher’ training course. Known both as ‘Continuous Professional Development’ (CPD) or ‘Ongoing Training’ – don’t worry, they mean the same thing!
The new requirements are simple. Testers must do a minimum of three hours’ training every year, adding an hour over five years, 16 hours all told. Testers are ‘on trust’ to do the training themselves, and record the time they’ve spent, what they’ve done, and what they’ve learned. Each year DVSA will nominate compulsory subjects which Testers must work on; this year it’s ‘Driver’s view of the road’, ‘Headlamp aim’, and understanding the new ‘ongoing training’ rules.
It’s the Tester’s personal responsibility to do the training – not the AE… However… there’s a catch. If the Tester hasn’t completed and recorded the training, the Testing Station could be marked down at the next ‘risk assessment’ visit. The Tester may also suffer some form of disciplinary action, perhaps in the extreme, a short suspension (DVSA have yet to decide any rules on this) – suspended Testers are not good for business!
Annual ‘test’ for Testers
Finally, there’s that annual online test, checking the Tester’s overall knowledge of the MOT Scheme. Testers must achieve a pass by getting at least a 50% score. It is the Tester’s personal responsibility to take the test – which has to be paid for. It is a so-called ‘open book’ test, allowing Testers to refer to the Manual Guide or Special Notices and so on whilst answering the questions. It is time-limited to 45 minutes, with 30 questions all told. Testers can do this whenever, and wherever they like during the year – some preferring a relaxed atmosphere at home, with others doing it at work – but it must be completed by the end of March.
I’ve heard the test is harder than people expected – although they didn’t fail. Only time will tell how that will work out after a few thousand Testers have sat it. The three official ‘Awarding Bodies’ will each offer the annual online test for Testers. As far as I can see ABC is probably the easiest to get to from their website – although the IMI website does get you there, it’s a bit more tedious. I found the City and Guilds website quite bewildering!
MOT Trainer quality
Recently a member of my staff attended one of DVSA’s last ‘Tester Training’ courses. He was impressed, telling me, “…our trainer really knew his stuff… ask any question and he knew exactly where it was in the Manual and how to interpret what the Manual said…” It has to be to their credit that the Vehicle Inspectorate, VOSA, and more recently DVSA have maintained such a high standard of training over such an extended period of time. But will that be the case into the future?
Unfortunately there’s no ‘MOT Trainer’ qualification in the new system. New MOT trainers don’t need ‘day-to-day’ experience of MOT Testing to train new Testers. They only have to complete a Tester Training course. Will that be good enough? I hope so, as poor training of trainers would undermine the whole system. So the degree to which ‘awarding bodies’ monitor the quality of MOT training at training centres, and DVSA’s continuously monitoring of the whole system is essential, to ensure quality Testers emerge from the new privatised training system.
A sound basis…
Except for my concerns over the quality of MOT trainers, I think the new training structure is a good starting point to better professionalise the MOT Testing Scheme. Whilst it is a good basis, especially for initial Tester and Manager training, I do have concerns about the arrangements for ‘ongoing training’. There’s scant guidance from DVSA on the practicalities of what Testers should actually need to do, and no way DVSA can check that the person sitting the Test is the Tester it is supposed to be. I hope ongoing training will be improved into the future, and the annual test less open to abuse.
Cut-off date March 31st
Although the way in which the new training arrangements have been communicated to Testers and AEs is somewhat confusing, the cut-off date to have completed that test for Testers is 31st March each year; and the same date seems to apply to complete three hours of ‘ongoing training’.
This article appeared in MOT Testing magazine in November 2016. Since it was first published, training requirements, including the annual test for Testers, remain unchanged, although the pass score for the annual test has now increased from 50% to 60%.
The subjects on which Testers have to spend at least three hours on their own ‘refresher training’, have also changed, and are discussed in detail in the latest edition of MOT Testing Magazine.
This is DVSA’s illustration of what is required of Testers to complete their ongoing training and annual test. Unfortunately however, DVSA offer little guidance as to the practicalities.
The new annual online test for Testers is available at a cost by the three ‘Awarding Bodies’ – we found that ABC provided the easiest site for Testers to navigate directly to their test. Remember that for all three a charge will apply