The world’s biggest competition for workshop personnel is about to take place in Sweden. First held in 1957, the finals of VISTA (Volvo International Service Training Award), held on May 31 to June 1 in Gothenburg, Sweden will have Aussie competitors in the mix.
Two teams from Australia will be competing in the global finals, the VCV Townsville Barras and VCV Sydney Chullora Blues.
“I am so proud of the men and women who make up the Townsville ‘Barras’ and Chullora ‘Blues’ for representing Australia in the VISTA global final,” said Peter Voorhoeve, President of Volvo Group Australia. “These technicians and workshop personnel provide world-class customer service day-in, day-out. For these teams to be recognised on a world stage is fantastic.”
The competition is open to all workshop personnel who work with Volvo trucks or buses. Volvo says the aim is to improve staff competence and further raise the quality of the work done at workshops the world over.
Since the first VISTA competition was first held in 1957, a lot of changes have taken place in the workshops. Back then the job was oily, dirty and demanded physical strength. In theory, today the situation is entirely different.
“Vehicle development demands that the mechanic’s training keeps pace,” said Kent Medin, Instructor at the Volvo Trucks school for mechanics. “This requires a totally different kind of knowhow today in areas such as mechanics, electronics and IT systems. Consequently, mechanics today have much higher status than they did before.”
More than 18,000 people from 96 countries are taking part in the competition, which begins with a theory test.
“This inspires the participants to do their homework and learn more,” said Medin. “In VISTA, everyone in the team is involved, so the ability to cooperate is significantly enhanced.”
In 2013 five per cent of all the participants were women, whereas this year the figure has risen to six per cent. One of the Brazilian teams in the final round includes Natalia Aparecida de Gaspri Silva, Aftersales Administrative Assistant in the Auto Sueco São Paulo workshop. She has worked there for nine years.
“VISTA helps me boost my technical experience, it gives me a broader understanding of the daily challenges facing the workshop, and underscores the importance of teamwork,” said Natalia. “Especially when it happens in an integrated and cohesive way.”
Each team consists of two to four people and the competition begins with three sessions of theoretical questions which the teams answer in their own workshops. After that round, the best teams continue on to the regional semi-finals, from which 32 teams qualify for the global finals, being held in Gothenburg, Sweden. The term ‘workshop personnel’ includes customer receptionists, parts personnel, technicians and mechanics.