Bridgestone is promising to raise standards, celebrate excellence and create a sense of uniformity in the commercial tyre industry, after becoming the first major manufacturer to offer a new licence for technicians to benefit from.
The world’s largest tyre manufacturer is the first to provide the Society of Operations Engineers’ (SOE) Commercial Tyre Technician Licence to employees of fleets across the UK.
The licence, featuring three practical assessments and an online test, aims to regulate the industry and provide a sense of ‘best practice’ with an approved standard that everyone can aspire to achieve.
At present, it is just beginning to be rolled out and Bridgestone has become the first premium tyre manufacturer to put its name to it, with UK development trainers Phil Thirsk and Paul Turner passing their own rigorous tests in October to become qualified assessors.
This is then followed by an online test through a web portal and upon passing, the technician will receive their licence for five years.
Phil and Paul assessed their first two technicians at TyreForce in Manchester last week, whose group training manager Helen Allera expressed her delight.
She said: “These guys are fitting tyres to peoples’ trucks, which is a hugely important – and at times a dangerous – job. Surely there should be something that says they are credible and can carry out the work to the highest possible standards?
“This licence creates traceability, accountability and from our point of view, a blue riband standard that we can use when pitching for work and communicating with our customers. It can help us secure new business, such is the level we regard it.”
The licence supplements Bridgestone’s existing award winning training programmes, which won the NTDA’s Industry Staff Training and Development award last year. It is hoped that, like Bridgestone’s REACT Roadside Tyre Technician Training course, the licence will be adopted by the NTDA and actually enforced across the industry as a best practice qualification to adhere to.
Phil launched an impassioned defence of tyre technicians when underlining the benefit of the licence, claiming that they should be treated with the same respect as any other professionals who boast Government-approved accreditations and qualifications.
“These guys are often working alone in extremely tough conditions, whilst using their initiative to solve tough problems.
“Believe me, there are all manner of problems on the roadside to negotiate. They are a self-deprecating bunch and many of the technicians we assess think that gaining a qualification like this is beyond them.
“They’re wrong. Perceptions of them are wrong. They’re intelligent guys. They work long hours and perform a hugely important role in our society. This is why Paul and I were so eager to qualify to become assessors of the commercial tyre technician licence. It is an award we truly believe in and we think it will regulate the industry and become an award for every technician to aspire towards.
Paul added: “In the past, there was no sense of due-diligence when it came to training. There was no test to speak of, with lots of different companies doing different things to fill a void.
“Technology has moved on. Fitting equipment has changed over the years, but there is still the need for a technician to manually fit a tyre. That will always be there.
“We’re proud to be one of the very first to offer this qualification on behalf of Bridgestone and we think that this could really empower an industry that has long deserved something like this.”