Mercury Marine is addressing the technician shortage by offering dealers an opportunity to get marine technicians certified using an accelerated process.
The Mercury University Accelerated Outboard Certification program lets technicians become Mercury certified in three weeks, as opposed to the process that could take a year or two, Mercury training technology and curriculum team leader Nick Van Nocker told Trade Only Today.
The program requirements are identical to the regular certification program, but maximize online learning so that all of the in-person education is focused on hands-on training, said Van Nocker.
“Three or four years ago, we had classes that would be a week — five days of training, two days of lecture, and three days in the lab,” said Van Nocker. “Now we can condense that because they get the initial training online first.”
Mercury has an internal team that created videos for technicians to watch via Webex.
“The difference between this program and the traditional program is this is done in a more compact time,” said Van Nocker. “It’s the same classes, the same exam, the curriculums are the same. The class length of time is the same. The difference is they enter as a group, and each class has 14 students.”
Previously technicians had to travel to fit classes into their schedules. In addition to saving a technician’s time, the new program saves dealers money on travel.
Though Van Nocker says it’s difficult to put a value on the time a dealership will save, many dealers say they have a service backlog due to their inability to fill open tech positions.
Melvin Grove from Alaska Frontier Fabrication in Alaska took advantage of the program to get his technician certified.
“Travel from Alaska is extremely expensive and time consuming,” said Grove in a statement. “The Accelerated Outboard Certification program got our technician certified quickly, and saved us thousands in travel costs.”
The main focus is to attract and retain technicians, said Van Nocker.
“You talk about a technician shortage, so what we’re trying to do is build programs around encouraging people, A, to get into industry and, B, give incentives to get them certified early which will give them incentive to stay,” said Van Nocker. “Once they become certified, usually a person has opportunities to earn more than at a non-certified level. They can work to certified level, and then beyond that, they can work to become a master certified technician. They are few and far between, there’s a lot of training to go through to reach that.”