The Honda Institute has been honoured with a South East Training Award at the recent NTA regional awards ceremony. The National Training Awards are the UK's most prestigious awards for ‘excellence in training and people development’, something that the Honda Institute has become a byword for throughout Europe.

NTA judging criteria included creativity, innovation and flexibility. The entry from The Honda Institute - Individual Skills Training (IST) for car technicians - was one of only 16 to reach the finals from over 1,000 entries, with Honda the only automotive company to reach the finals.

Historically, the traditional ‘sit and listen’ approach to training for car technicians means courses can be inflexible and consequently poorly attended. They typically run for three days and dealers are charged per technician, per course attended, making it difficult for them to work around the time that key personnel are taken out of the business. Honda’s IST system is different – it gives technicians the control to tailor their training to their own needs, and to book the courses when it suits them.

IST is an exclusive approach to training that has been pioneered by The Honda Institute for all car technicians working at franchised Honda dealers in the UK. IST lets technicians learn about what they want, when they want and for as long as they want, which is why it has been nicknamed ‘training on tap’.

"Effectively, IST lets us run several courses at the same time," says Sarah Beadell, Technical Training Manager at The Honda Institute. "We can have one technician learning all about electrics at the same time as we have others finding out about braking systems or steering and suspension."

After a brief assessment the technicians build their own training programme by selecting the modules they need. Once they can prove to the trainer that they have mastered their current topic they progress to their next stage. This means that even if there is a group of technicians working on the same module they can all progress and learn at their own pace, allowing the trainers to provide one-to-one attention whenever and wherever it is needed.

This level of flexibility also benefits Honda’s customers. Since technicians pick up new skills much quicker, first-time fix rates increase, which reduces job times and increases throughput, keeping customers happier and simultaneously boosting workshop profitability. IST has proved so successful with car dealers that The Honda Institute is currently rolling-out the scheme to Honda’s Motorcycle and Power Equipment specialist networks.

"We all know that ’your people are your greatest asset’ but this is only ever true if your people have the right skills to do their jobs. Untrained people are your greatest liability," concluded Geoff Matthews, Head of The Honda Institute.

Published : 10/11/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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