As part of its continuing commitment to education, Stihl Inc. recently opened its highly successful iCademy online dealer training program to vocational education programs. The move allows educators to access Stihl’s Internet-based distance training and testing program, and augment all aspects of its technical instruction curriculum. The site launched in 2007 and has 200 schools participating to date.
“It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges employers face today is filling openings for skilled trade positions, including those of competent service technicians,” said Fred J. Whyte, president of Stihl Inc. “Certainly, by providing the iCademy content to vocational instructors, we are giving them one more tool to help develop future service technicians.”
John Keeler, national training manager at Stihl Inc., said, “Making our iCademy dealer training material available at the vocational education level was a natural extension of Stihl’s involvement in skills training at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Stihl participates in many technical training programs across the U.S. through our branch and distributor network, and we created this online tool to further our commitment to education and the future of our industry.”
Because Stihl sells only through servicing dealers, the company developed the current iCademy program to help dealers improve their business. It has become an integral tool for them, enabling employees to access first-class training while limiting travel to remote locations, conserving time, and minimizing expense. The system also allows managers greater involvement in employee development by producing reports on individual performance. The program has been well received with more than 280,000 dealer tests taken by employees in more than 4,000 dealerships.
Through this vocational initiative, the iCademy program will be made available to any accredited school teaching small-engine repair and will assist the student in a variety of subjects concerning the operation of a power equipment dealership. “Students in outdoor power equipment (OPE) classes will be able to go online and learn about certain components of repair on a Stihl product, how to effectively merchandise a retail selling area, or proven techniques in selling and customer service,” Keeler said. “Then, they can test themselves to see if they have absorbed the knowledge well enough to make repairs in the shop or to interact with customers and so on.” Instructors can monitor each student’s progress through the various lessons, allowing them to identify students that require specific assistance.
Instructors who want to participate in the program can apply by logging onto www.stihlvotech.com. “Once there, they will be prompted to enter information on their school and their OPE training program,” said Keeler. “A unique user name and password will then be forwarded to the instructor. Once enrolled, they will be provided an iCademy overview, detailed operating instructions and suggestions on how to use it in their classes.
“We are very excited about raising the bar for our vocational training initiative and helping students get to the next level with their future OPE employment opportunities.”