Longitude I've got to come out among. Full image

Accreditations and why they're important

Accreditations and why they’re important.

As long as PDR has been around there were no official qualifications, apprenticeships or recognised standards which meant anyone could buy a few tools, get some business cards printed and advertise their services as a dent repair technician, indeed many have. In fact many respectable body shops over the years were encouraged to send an employee from the shop floor, usually a panel beater, to attend a 1-week, at best, course in PDR, expecting them to return as an expert in PDR!

- the reality is there are a vast number of body shops out there who might still have an old, outdated tool kit lying around in some dark corner of the workshop, covered in dust and rarely used. Nowadays very few body shops, if any, provide in-house PDR repairs because they don’t have staff with enough practised skills to perform it properly as it was always treated as an add-on to their main activities of crash repairs or replacing body panels, creating unnecessary expensive waste.

As consumers, if we need a tradesman at home such as a builder, a plumber, an electrician and so on, we take it for granted that he/she is qualified, experienced and that we’re in good hands? It’s only when things go wrong we start to wish we hadn’t called them or used someone else! Sadly many of us has either encountered or heard of rogue traders, often referred to as “cowboys”, “Bodge-it & Scarper!”? It’s no different in the PDR world! As said, anyone can buy some tools and set themselves up as a so-called technician, often without any insurance or backup for if and when things go wrong.

A typical example is where a second-rate technician overworks the panel in attempting to affect a repair and stretches the metal leaving it as unsightly, or even worse, than the original dent! The ‘big book of excuses’ then comes out and you’re given some lame excuse as to why it can’t be repaired, resulting in even more expense as the panel is now beyond recovering by a ‘proper’ technician and needs beating, filling and respraying, or a new panel fitting! Thin steel and aluminium is easy to stretch and once it has been, it can never be reformed to its original shape or state! Lots of ‘dent men’ out there won’t even touch aluminium in particular for these reasons!

So how can you avoid a second-rate technician working on your car? You could take a chance and hope it turns out okay, or you can use a trusted Industry Accredited technician?

So why is accreditation so important?

Firstly - Only established PDR technicians with enough ‘relevant-industry experience’ can be permitted to undergo assessment for accreditation.

Secondly - Only the Institute of the Motor Industry (the IMI) can grant certificates as the UK official motor industry licensing body. IMI Accreditation is recognised and respected in many parts of the world.

Thirdly – Achieving an industry recognised accreditation is no easy task – It’s not meant to be!

To achieve and become accredited, qualifying technicians must and undergo various practical and a theory tests designed to really measure their core competences, skills and knowledge. This is carried out under test conditions through close scrutiny and observations in a controlled environment. There is no higher accolade for a PDR technician.

One area of particular scrutiny is for the technician to demonstrate the correct tooling and more importantly, the correct method of repair, to ensure the integrity of the vehicles’ panel.
Lesser dent technicians will think nothing of drilling a whole somewhere to gain access to the back of a dent and not treat the underside of the panel properly – this is particularly important and necessary where a steel-tipped rod has been rubbing through the factory applied anti-corrosion treatment on the inner-side of a body panel! Leaving it untreated will potentially cause unnecessary corrosion.

An accreditation doesn’t last forever as they’re typically valid for 3-years then expire. So anyone becoming accredited will have to be reassessed regularly, to prove their then current core competencies in practical skills and knowledge. In essence this means individuals must keep up with their industry developments and practices. Achieving accreditation in PDR is the bench mark in the automotive repair industry and only those that pass and achieve accreditation are included onto the Professional Register.

Early in 2017, the IMI began lobbying UK Government in pushing for all dealer workshop mechanics to become licenced under assessment for accreditation on a regular basis. The aim is to ensure staff maintain continued professional development and demonstrate core skills and competency in keeping with industry developments and best-practices.
Their argument is simple in that; because someone passed exams and became qualified as a mechanic through City & Guilds decades ago, there’s no guarantee their skills and knowledge meet today’s standards, particularly when vehicles and repair methods are constantly evolving at a rapid pace!

So, why are accreditations important? They’re important so you as a paying customer can rest assured your car really is in the best hands possible for the type of repair you require!