The RV Service Training Industry Education Council expects as many as 350 students involved in taking its classes via weekly satellite telecasts to take its technician certification tests in August.
“We estimate that between 550 and 600 technicians are viewing the program each week,” said Jim Carr, director of the RV Training Institute (RVTI) at Lake City Community College in Florida.
The RVTI operates the satellite program for the Education Council. This is the first year the council has operated the program nationwide, having signed up 38 dealers outside of Florida.
A new 40-week semester will begin in September with advanced training by manufacturers and suppliers expected to be added to the offerings separate from the technician training.
Discussions are under way with Fleetwood Industries Inc., Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC, Winnebago Industries Inc. and Onan Corp., to provide training specific to their products via the satellite system, according to Carr.
Carr said the RVTI’s goal is to have 200 dealers equipped to receive satellite classes by the end of 2003.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) also has been exploring with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) a series of shorter courses that offer sales, service and warranty training.
Outside of Florida, registration for the service technician classes is $1,200 a year, plus the cost of buying satellite equipment for $1,500 to $2,000. The 11/2-hour classes, based on RVIA’s textbook series, are telecast Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).
As many students as a dealer wants may participate. Some employees other than service technicians take the classes.
This year’s test program was capped at 67 dealers nationwide – 29 in Florida where FRVTA is concluding its third year of satellite training. “We would like to leave enrollment as open as it can be, but that decision has not been made,” said RVIA Vice President Bruce Hopkins.
Hopkins said the RV industry’s experience with satellite training will be a benefit, as specialized communications systems continue to develop, particularly via the Internet. “The satellite right now is the best thing going for an inexpensive price,” he said.