I noticed some discussion lately on Linked-In about NATE and what some of the opinions are out there about it. One of the things I read about it was the idea that the organization has become more interested in perpetuating itself than in certifying technicians. This is where my question about jumping the shark comes from.
The phrase “jumped the shark” was coined when, according to the opinion of some people involved in the production of the TV series Happy Days, the show reached a point where it was more about ratings than it was about telling its story and entertaining viewers. The episode was about the character Fonzie and his proving he was brave by water skiing, and ultimately jumping over a shark in the water. Actually, it was more of a gimmick than it was a story, and so, for many, it is considered a turning point when the production became more about earning revenue from high ratings than staying true to its original intent. And, what has happened to the phrase “jumping the shark” is what usually happens to a newly-coined phrase that came about due to some very specific situation. It is now often used to refer to any situation in which a negative, such as greed, has overcome what is considered to be the original honorable intent of an organization.
So, my question is, has NATE jumped the shark?
Well, I won’t pretend to know the answer to that question, but there are some things that I do know about the process of technician certification.
I know that even though there may be situations in which every question on a certification exam may not be valid according to everyone working in the field, the exam process itself still speaks to the overall understanding that technicians have in regard to their craft when they achieve a passing score on that exam.
I know that when the certification process works as intended, which is to both increase and measure the overall understanding a technician has about an industry, it results in increased confidence and competency.
I know that when confidence and competency increases, it results in a higher quality of work being performed by persons in their craft.
I know that when a higher quality of work is being performed by persons in their craft, it raises the standards of their industry.
I know that when the standards of an industry are raised, it results in a better end product or service for the consumer.
And I know, as everyone else also knows, that is the honorable intent of any business or industry.
So, like I said, I won’t pretend to know the answer to the question about NATE jumping the shark, and I don’t know that anyone can answer it for certain. All I can say is that if something isn’t perfect, then engaging in a dialogue about it is a good thing because that’s how we get as close as we can to perfect in any honorable effort.
And I know that increasing the confidence and measuring the competence of HVAC technicians is an honorable effort.
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