Industry Certification Issues



 Livework and the Automotive Program

 Utilizing student labor to service and repair vehicles owned by the public.

 All standards are NATEF industry certification standards and quoted from NATEF website. As stated in the NATEF Certification and Self-Evaluation Materials;  additional information on program certification is located at see NATEF  teacher helps

 All NATEF standards are in bold. My comments and suggestions in no way over rule NATEF.

 The goal/purpose of the training program.  The mission statement of the automotive training program is to provide training for the next generation of the automotive industries employees. The goals are to provide career training, job skills and work ethics.

The use of livework is encouraged as part and solution to giving the student an opportunity to service and repair a wide range of vehicles, learn new procedures and technology.

The training program should reflect the epitome of the finest repair facility available. State of the art equipment, latest technology in the automotive industry and up to date service information should be the standard. Your communities’ taxpayers, business partners deserve the best in training for their future employees.

 The training program should focus on the individual student’s learning needs to meet the goals of the program.

 Livework should benefit the training program by supporting the goals and mission statement of the training program. Livework should not place any demands on the instructor or the student that would distract from the delivery of bell to bell student learning.

 Livework used to complement the curriculum, follow the syllabus and meet the lesson plan for the day is a valuable resource.

 Programs adding livework to the program training plan should carefully consider these issues; Customer expectations can be very hard to meet with student labor. If the automotive instructor wanted to meet customer expectations on a day to day basis he/she could return to a dealership and make six figures. I do not see any instructor that would want to wear the hats of Service Manager, Shop Foreman, and training facilitator in a training program. Visit a local dealership and observe the career of service writer, manager and the duties of the technicians.  With technician labor rates of $97-102 per hour the pace is fast and techs have to hustle to meet flat rate demands.

Time expectations of customers and delivery of fixed right the first time vehicles is impossible to meet in a training situation. You either meet customer expectations or you meet student learning needs. I have not observed or met anyone who claimed to do both in the same training program. If an instructor “Inspects what he expects” in insuring that the customers vehicle is serviced/repaired properly then the time demands of the inspection must be allowed for.  Customer expectations of the repairs to their car are not dependant on the cost to the customer for the repair. Today’s customer demands more of their automobile technician than of their health care professionals. Before I developed a service and repair business in my training program I would ask my business advisory council how they feel about the competition.

 Is it possible to operate a limited retail operation with in the training program? With lots of proactive planning, cooperation of the school administration and staff and a very organized lab it can be done.

 We perform live work on school system employees’ vehicles and some student/parent vehicles. We limit service and repair work to the four areas of the secondary program curriculum. We only take in the jobs we select based on these criteria; Can the work be done by students in one to two class periods over one or two days? Can the owner give up the vehicle for an unspecified time? No vague, in-depth car problems that no one has been able to fix. No repairs or service that is out of curriculum nor fits the day’s lesson plan. No vehicle over 10 years old for any service other than oil change or alignment. Vehicle owners must agree in writing that the student work is at the owner’s risk, no warranty, no promises of time on demand. If the bell rings and the car is not ready the car remains in the lab until students return.

No repair that would be long term is attempted. No projects! No junk is patched up! Only by the book repairs and service are done.

 Once a team or individual students are assigned to a repair or service they stay with it until done. Brakes and other safety items are fixed according to my standards the way I determine or not at all. All parts showing wear are replaced or the repair is not performed. I buy all the parts from a local parts house on a school account that is paid in full each month. I add 20% to the parts total, charge for shop supplies and $5.00 lab fee. I do not have a set fee as oil and parts prices have fluctuated so much.

 We solicit donations of any vehicles running or not. These are restored if possible without compromising our goals and sold at auction to school system employees. We scrap out our use as modules for class any other vehicles that can not be restored. We do not overhaul or do body work. All vehicles must have clean title and the owner gets a tax donation letter. The residual parts or vehicle is sold to a towing company. We take in $7K to $9K each school year in fees, parts profit and vehicle donations. I have not needed a budget past three years to operate the program.

The liability and responsibility of service and repair of vehicles being operated on public highways is an awesome responsibility for any one in the service industry. In our highly litigious society I want as much coverage and as little exposure as I can have. The very thought that in a tire rotation a student is distracted and leaves a wheel loose causing an accident is nightmarish. The cost of the service does not limit the liability in an accident. Recently during a brake service on a teacher’s car the brake line was left in a twisted position when the caliper was mounted. A common but dangerous situation in that the turn of the wheel could cause failure of the line and loss of brakes. The bell had rang as they were finished and I had duties to do before I could inspect the brake job on the car.  I held the car over night. I questioned students and was told by each one that their job was done correctly the day before. I had them review the repair step by step. No one could remember who worked on the offended line. We narrowed it down to two students and after repeated questions one student admitted to the mistake. The whole class viewed the problem, not to be critical of the student, but to learn that mistakes happen. The car was properly fixed and inspected. Had I been rushed or otherwise distracted by demands of the marketplace the outcome may not have been pleasant. As it was the teacher was out of her car another day and now has safe brakes.

 The brake class does brake service, the electrical, electrical problems and so forth. Each class has a service advisor, service writer, parts person, shop foreman and each rotates as needed. I do the overall management but students do all the tasks they would do if we were a real dealership service department. We currently use the Honda Express service curriculum for oil changes and minor service.

All students must complete several practice service sessions and then have a final performance test that proves they know how to do the service to perfection.

 Here are the NATEF standards I would understand before I develop a live work policy.

 NATEF Standards

 Std. 1.2          Program Description/Goals


Program administration should ensure that instructional activities support and promote the goals of the program.


P2.4  Written Policies

Written policies should be adopted by the administration and policy board for use in decision making situations and to provide guidance in achieving the program goals. Policies regarding safety, liability and lab/shop operation should be written and prominently displayed as well as provided to all students and instructors


rog2.5 Advisory Committee

An Advisory Committee, consisting of at least five (5) members, must convene at least two times a year and be utilized to provide counsel, assistance and information from the community served by the training program. This Committee should be broadly based and include former students, employed technicians, employers and representatives for consumers interests.raS


STD ST2.7     Live Work Accounting

A systematic method of collecting, documenting and disbursing live work repair receipts should be used. Instructional staff should not be required to collect payment for live work repairs.should ensure that instructional activities support an A.           Rate the system used to collect, document and disburse live work repair receipts.goal

B.        Rate the use of support staff to collect payment of live work repairs.



Std. 6.15         Live Work


Live work should be scheduled to benefit the student and supplement ongoing instruction on items specified in the NATEF task list. a student should have had instruction and practice on a specific repair task before live work requiring that task is assigned. Donated vehicles by the manufacturers or other sources, customer-owned vehicles, and other training vehicles may be used as the primary source of live work. Automobile, Collision Repair & Refinish or Medium/Heavy Truck training program student-owned vehicles, school buses, and other vehicles owned and operated by the governing body of the school should not be the primary source of live work vehicles. All vehicles in the lab/shop should have a completed industry-type work order attached to or on the vehicle

he A.   Rate the degree to which all live work benefits the student and supplements on-going

og B.   Rate the degree to which a student had instruction and practice on a specific repair task before a live work job requiring this task is assigned.


C.  Rate the degree to which the program policies do not allow the following as the primary source of live work projects:

1.   Students in the Automobile, Collision Repair & Refinish or Medium/Heavy Truck training program working on their own vehicles.

2.   School buses or other vehicles owned and operated by the governing body of the school.

(Note: Vehicles donated by manufacturers or other sources are acceptable as the primary source of live work projects.)


  1. D.                Rate the use of a written, industry-type work order attached to or placed inside the vehicle.

Note: Consult the NATEF web site for the actual standards and latest changes        Revised 2008


2 Responses to “Industry Certification Issues”

  1. Johnathan Barton Says:

    This is my fourth year so I’m relatively new at teaching. I have 17 years experience in the automotive industry but it is amazing at what I learn while teaching. I have been borrowing alot of your information from the autoteacher site for the past couple of years and appreciate your advice.
    Thanks for all the help.

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