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RVPulse

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Bruce A. Hopkins<br />Vice President, Standards and Education
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Bruce A. Hopkins
Vice President, Standards and Education Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

About The Author: Bruce A. Hopkins, vice president of standards and education for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), has worked in RV standards for 41 years and is responsible for the association's RV standards programs and for educational efforts aimed at developing the skills of RV service technicians. As such, his staff conducts in-plant audits and oversees the operations of the RVIA Standards Steering Committee and its six internal Technical Subcommittees, the RV Service Training Council, the Industry Education Committee and its Technical Subcommittee.

RVST Standard: A Cornerstone for Tech Training

The recreation vehicle industry is experiencing a renewed commitment to getting more RV service technicians (RVST) involved in both training and certification.

The RVIA Board of Directors has recently approved $150,000 in funding for new efforts to stimulate participation in the RVST training and certification programs. A pilot program focused on this effort will be discussed and finalized during the early June 2013 Committee Week meetings in Washington, D.C. Simultaneously, we are continuing to improve communications with RVST service managers and technicians and are developing a means for gathering feedback from technicians in the training programs and to provide them with timely responses. Yet there remains a pivotal step in this effort that the industry needs to fully embrace: recognizing the value of the RVST Standard and helping to increase its acceptance and importance.

The RVST Standard for Service Technicians lists all of the duties, tasks and steps a technician will encounter in his or her career. This detailed information has been used to develop the questions found in the various certification tests. The standard has also been organized so technicians can readily see what items are particularly relevant for the individual specialties tests. This information can be found in the Study Guides that parallel the career ladder structure. These Study Guides can be downloaded from rvtechnician.com under “tools for preparation.”

Development of the RVST standard was modeled after the successful and highly valued RV safety standards programs administered by RVIA, including the process for regular and continuing review and updates of its content. Following that model, the RVST standard is currently under review. New proposals are due by July 1, and the next edition is scheduled for distribution in September of 2015. We anticipate adding training objectives and, possibly, concrete measurables to this next edition to provide better understanding and direction for technicians and their instructors.

The RVST standard is intended to be the foundation and cornerstone for all future training content, regardless of author. Doing so will not only let technicians know where they stand in their training needs but will also enable a “boss” to better understand precisely what their technicians know. There is an urgent need to start planning at least five years out for replacing exiting technicians with “new blood.” The unit of measure in this critical planning should be the RVST Standard.

We estimate there is easily more than $3 million industry-wide being spent annually on RVST training by manufacturers, suppliers, state trade associations and RVIA. Unfortunately, the current system frequently lacks coordination. Supplier trainers report that they often simply start with basic level information because they aren’t sure what the technicians already know. This is terribly inefficient. By following the standard when developing training programs and tracking the various programs offered throughout the industry the training overall will be more consistent and have less overlap, regardless of which entity is providing the education.

Using the RVST Standard and helping to keep it up-to-date will yield huge industry benefits. Moving forward, as this standard is further refined and used throughout the industry, it can and should achieve a level of respect and trust similar to that enjoyed by the NFPA 1192 RV Safety Standard. The governance structure for the RVST Standard is solidly in place and stakeholders are urged to participate in making it a success.

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