The year of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has arrived. It’s the 50th anniversary of ASE, the independent third-party organization that upholds and promotes high standards of service and repair through the assessment, certification, and credentialing of current and future industry professionals.
Founded in 1972, ASE has more than 225,000 certified professionals nationwide. In addition, through the ASE Education Foundation, there are over 5,000 instructors to teach over 100,000 students across the U.S in 2,300 ASE accredited automotive technology training programs.
The organization is also facing the changes that are currently impacting the industry. ASE is launching new initiatives to address technological advancements and the ongoing technician shortage.
While ASE stays busy, it is also taking the time to appreciate everyone involved in making this important milestone.
Celebrating 50 Years
ASE is taking multiple approaches to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In addition to creating a special logo, the organization holds a board of governors meeting in June.
“We’re inviting all of our past chairs from the last 50 years to join us,” said Trish Serratore, SVP of communications at ASE. “Not all of them can come, but we will try and have as many of them as we can. And then, in November, at our board meeting we have our annual service professional awards banquet. And that’s where we’re really going to recognize the people who are most important with this whole 50th anniversary.”
As special as it is to have the board come together to celebrate, Serratore wants to recognize the other side of the business.
“Most importantly, we want to celebrate the technicians and other service professionals and the people who actually do all the hard work and have been doing it for years and years and years,” Serratore said.
ASE is launching service professional spotlights, which will highlight ASE Certified technicians.
“We want to know who they are, what they’re doing, all the great things they’ve achieved in their careers, and how they got there,” Serratore said. “Again, part of our 50th anniversary is celebrating the folks who do the work every day and keep our cars and trucks safe.”
Additionally, ASE announced June is Automotive Service Professionals Month.
ASE will “honor and recognize the valuable work that ASE Certified service professionals perform each and every day,” Brad Pellman, president of Pellman’s Automotive, said in ASE’s Chairman Message.
ASE's Biggest Achievements
A lot has been accomplished over the course of 50 years in business, but there’s one aspect that gets lost in history.
“I think 50 years is a long time for anything, much less a professional credential within the automotive industry,” Serratore said. “So, I think that’s one of our biggest achievements.”
Getting to the 50-year mark is the biggest achievement, but Serratore said it’s also the support developed within the industry.
“ASE was created by the industry for the industry,” Serratore said. “And so, without that continued partnership, we would have faded away a long time ago.”
Mike Coley, president of the ASE Education Foundation, highlighted the organization’s improved language and image as a standout achievement.
“One of the aims of ASE is improving the image, the public image of automotive service, and the folks who work in automotive service,” Coley said. “And when we updated our logo back in 1982, we also stopped calling folks mechanics and started calling them technicians. Everybody in the industry refers to the service professionals who keep your car and your truck rolling as service technicians now.”
The ASE Education Foundation develops career-readiness education for students, which combines local partnerships, standard-based education, workplace experience, and mentorship.
The latest accomplishment for ASE is its ASE Renewal App.
“The ASE Renewal App allows our auto techs to renew their certifications using their phones. So, we’re trying to take advantage of technology as much as we can.”
The new app helps ASE Certified automobile professionals maintain their A Series certifications from their desktop, tablet, or mobile devices without going to a test center.
To date, more than 11,000 automotive service professionals have enrolled and are using the app to extend their A1-A9 certifications since its launch.
Adapting to Technology
The evolving nature of technology can have an organization go through multiple adjustment periods throughout its history. ASE has shown its adjusting to new technology, especially since the launch of the ASE Renewal App.
It did not start with the app, though. Before the ASE Renewal App, there was myASE. This is a portal that allows technicians to manage their credentials.
“They could see what areas they were certified in and when they could expire, register for tests, and they order certificates,” Serratore said. “So again, it was just a new way for us to interact with our technicians and make life easier for them.”
Another initiative for ASE could be introduced soon.
“We’re also moving forward and hope to shortly introduce an opportunity for technicians to take the tests at home or in a work environment using our new Pro Proctor Remote Proctoring Process,” Serratore said.
ASE noted the challenge of advanced technology versus user-friendly technology.
“We’re trying to use technology for technology’s sake and not making it so outlandish that no one understands how to use it,” Serratore said. “We are implementing the best possible user-friendly technology for our technicians and making sure the tests are as current as they should be, reflecting what they’re working on today.”
Coley said there are also adjustments on the educational side for ASE.
“It’s making sure that the educational programs reflect the current technology on the vehicle,” Coley said. “In other words, teaching engines still have valves but we’re not doing valve jobs like we were back in the day.”
The ASE Education Foundation is a non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits entry-level automotive technology education programs, according to the official website.
“We recognize we’ve got some challenges in the industry,” Coley added. “We need to recognize and reward people for their knowledge and identify where the gaps in their knowledge are, so that they can train up to the standards that we need them to be at.”
What’s Next for ASE
ASE is not stopping its own development. Serratore shared that within the next six to eight weeks, ASE could be launching its new certification for Advanced Driver Assist Systems by June of 2022.
“The industry came together, both the mechanical side and the collision side, and said, ‘Let’s put a stake in the sand here. This is what we want these technicians to know from a calibration perspective and from a diagnostic perspective.’”
Serratore said ASE would ramp it up and make an advanced level test to ensure that the technicians have the knowledge required to manage, maintain, and take care of these systems.
ASE is also turning a focus on electric vehicles.
“Students and technicians are going to be exposed to more EVs as time goes on,” Coley said. “Getting at least the safety aspects under your belt is the number one thing because that’s what we try to teach in every program. Let’s be safe in everything that we do in the shop.”
The technician shortage has become a challenge in the growth of ASE.
“Our perspective is that by partnering with your local high school program or college program, you’ve already got students that have raised their hand and said, ‘I’m interested in a career in this field,’” Coley said. “You have to go in there and explain to the students that there are career opportunities, whether it’s in service, parts, being a service writer, warranty, or administration.”
The ASE Education Foundation is launching its Registered Apprenticeship program in three states this year, according to Coley.
“It’s a structured learning and partnership between the school and the business where a student spends part of the day, part of the week, or part of the month in class, and the balance of their time in the workplace alongside an experienced mentor, gaining valuable hands-on experience,” Coley said.
Despite the challenges of the technician shortage, Serratore is confident in ASE’s testing and certification process moving forward for years to come.
“It’s important for you to maintain your knowledge,” Serratore said. “Most importantly, it’s important for you to remind yourself and your employer that you’ve updated your knowledge. That gives you leverage — from promotion to dollars. Those are just a few of the benefits that ASE offers.”