AGRR Magazine looks at UK Trailblazer development

Leading automotive glazing publication in the USA, AGRR Magazine, conducted an interview with Maria Charlton of the Automotive Glazing Academy on the development of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship in Auto Glazing.

“Think recalibrating vehicles with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is confusing? You aren’t alone. The United Kingdom is addressing this issue with a new education program. The U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has approved a new level 3 apprenticeship for automotive glass repair and replacement technicians. The group provides advanced training and is called a Trailblazer program, explains Maria Charlton, co-director of Essex Glass and Windscreens. The new Trailblazer training will be co-coordinated by Essex Glass and Windscreens, which is a sister business to the U.K. Automotive Glazing Academy (AGA). The U.K. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the new apprenticeship for auto glazing technicians in July 2015.

“Our Trailblazer program allows employers across the country to have their say in training tomorrow’s workforce, helping us achieve three million apprenticeships by 2020,” according to a statement from Nick Boles, U.K. Skills Minister.

In addition to auto glazing, the government is focusing on 25 additional sectors for apprenticeships. This is the latest step in the government’s plans to deliver new training, the minister says. Several U.K. AGRR companies are working together on this education initiative. These include Auto Windscreens (incorporating AA Auto Windshields), Belron’s Autoglass®, Advanced Autoglazing, Bristol Windscreens, CCS Windscreens, Essex Glass and Windscreens, Jay and Rob’s Windscreens, Nationwide Crash and Repair Centre and The Windscreen Co.

The program gives the industry an opportunity to design level 3 education that includes training on recalibrating ADAS after a windshield replacement, Charlton explains.

“This is information current and futuretechnicians will need to know,” she says. “They need to know how to replace a windshield on a vehicle with ADAS, and ensure they are servicing their companies and customers correctly and safely.”

The program uses an aftermarket diagnostic tool from Hella Gutmann Solutions for recalibration. It works on most European models, Charlton says.

“It is the only aftermarket solution created to recalibrate vehicles after a windscreen is replaced,” she notes. “It does not work on cars that have just debuted. The industry has to wait until the software is available. It usually works on vehicles 12 months old or older. Anything newer has to go to a dealer for recalibration. Technicians need to recognize this.” A new technician will spend at least a year at level 2, and then he or she can move on to level 3, Charlton explains. A person in the U.K. can enter the apprenticeship program at age 16.

“They are on a learning journey for three years to ensure they are a good, competent technician,” she says. “There is a huge demand for this training. The level 3 program can take two years or may take only 16 months. It will vary by technician.” The new training is expected to roll out in fall 2016.

AGA will deliver education onsite at the various participating companies’ locations.

“Training on one type of vehicle with ADAS is not sufficient because there are so many variations,” says Charlton. “At the end of our program, techs will have real experience and will have worked on a large variety and types of vehicles on the road. The technicians and companies know we will come out and work with the technicians and watch them work. We’ll cover different ideas and techniques. We’ll also deliver a variety of knowledge in addition to training on a vehicle, including employment information, understanding job responsibilities and more.”

Though developed separately from the Trailblazing program, theU.K. AGRR industry is also creating a Code of Practice that goes hand in-hand

with ADAS recalibration. The ADAS steering group includes Thatcham Research, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Belron, NSG Pilkington Auto, Association of British Insurers (ABI), National Windscreens, Hella Gutmann Solutions, Robert Bosch Ltd., Auto Body Professionals (ABP), Auto Glazing Academy and Nationwide Crash Repair Centres (NCRC).

The initial language for the code was provided by Belron, (

“This will be something companies can refer to and have in place to help cover liability issues,” says Charlton. “Our advice is for people to use it, but they don’t need to. However, if they don’t use it, they could be held liable.”

To view the AGRR Magazine article, click here

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