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Build the Perfect Certification Agency

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by SeaHorse81, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. SeaHorse81

    SeaHorse81 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: PA
    I’ve been following various posts lately in which people are being accused of being either agency bashers or apologists, depending. Much is being written about how biased many people are and how unreasonable they are because of those biases. Aside from the fact that that’s just a human thing, it’s taking away from what might otherwise be more interesting and productive discussions.

    So that got me to thinking: What if everybody, regardless of current agency preferences, had a chance to create a new agency from the ground up? What if we could try to combine the best of the current organizations and fix the perceived deficiencies? What might that agency look like?

    Please offer any element of our new agency, its practices, and standards that you think would be ideal and say why. If this happens to come from a current agency and you think it deserves inclusion in the new one, just don’t name the existing agency. Just add the idea and its merits, letting those stand on their own. Lots of you know the ins and outs of the various agencies but plenty of us don’t, so it might be nice to hear/think about it in a more generic sense, with no tribalism.

    Please offer only elements that you want the ideal agency to have, rather than “Well, it sure wouldn’t (fill in the blank)!!!” which is just agency bashing not much in disguise, and pointlessly negative. Could we keep this civil, because the personal ugliness of some other threads is becoming exhausting and making me not want to check on SB as much.
    CAPTAIN SINBAD, Subcooled and RJP like this.
  2. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    Even mixing the best of NAUI, PADI, BSAC, CMAS, & SSI, you won't have the best agency, IMO.
    Each agency has their pros and cons; and all of them are conflicting with the opposing agencies.

    What I like about PADI is they're consistent. You take a referral PADI OW student and with any instructor, the will know what that student has studied and checkout on so far. It can be an utter tossup with NAUI.
    But shoot if they're business ethic turns out tons of incompetent and ill equipped zero-hero resort instructors.
    They don't cater to keeping students in the diving hobby. They look to certify masses for profit. Retention and continuing education comes only if the student wants it in the first place.

    This is excluding those good instructors of course.

    NAUI has a lot of academic freedom to instructors. So you can custom tailor a course to work with the students you have.
    You can skip a skill to revisit it later if it benefits your students for one reason or another.
    Their Instructors elect the Board Members; they have a say in their agency. Divemasters are trained higher than Assistant Instructors, which on paper, their course curriculum makes them far better Dive guides than PADI DM's.
    Master Diver is an actual standalone course rather than a badge collection. You are essentially a trained DM w/o the rating.

    Plenty of bad apple instructors in NAUI I might add.

    SSI to my understanding is a good middle ground between NAUI & PADI, but you have to be linked to a shop, which crushes independent instruction. Though I know a few SSI instructors who thread the gray area thanks to certain supportive shops who get their cut via students buying gear.
    Having to get 25 dives to obtain AOW also crushes some students likelihood of continuing. Especially in boat diving only areas. There's also the cheat dive factor where you do a dive that doesn't teach you anything, just to satisfy the dive count. I believe the likelihood is higher with that standard, if you don't have a good instructor.

    CMAS just takes too long to gain certifications. But damn if you're not fully qualified when you get it.
    BSAC we'll geez that's a silly name. I don't actually know too much about them. But from diver's I've talked to, it seems very much like a mentorship club rather than an actual training agency; in the sense of how the operate.

    I do not think you can ever have the perfect agency. A blanket agency utopia will never fit everyone.
    mselenaous and cerich like this.
  3. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    The first thing an agency needs is a training course for dive shops on how to sell classes that are expensive enough so they can provide a much higher level of initial training without going broke. These are two very thought provoking articles:

    Dive Training Today, A Perspective by Bret Gilliam, Diver Magazine

    Should Diver Certification Be Forever? by Bret Gilliam, Diver Magazine

    The second thing a new agency needs is to be very well funded.

    Unrealistic as it may be, dreaming of the ideal course would have to include a chamber day.
  4. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    It would - allow for independent instructors
    It would - have an active quality assurance program, not a passive one. By this, I mean that agents of the agency would call and speak to new divers instead of sending a letter, would audit classes instead of trusting the shop to do things within standards, bounce the number of course materials bought against the number of students certified, etc.
    It would - insure itself instead of requiring all of its instructors to shield the agency with the instructors insurance

    I'll come up with more...
    DENLASCUBA, descent and Doc like this.
  5. DogDiver

    DogDiver Contributor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Branford, Florida
    Three rules for building a new SCUBA Agency

    Rule 1: lots of money.

    Rule 2: more money.

    Rule 3: refer back to rule #1


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Steve_C and Omisson like this.
  6. Omisson

    Omisson Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Whitestone, New York, United States
    The problem with the hypothetical is for every point someone will disagree... Consensus will be an exercise in futility.
  7. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    If that were true then there would be very little human progress. The most productive design reviews start with a blank slate, analyze the constraints, and invent ways to resolve them.

    Interesting topic Seahorse81
    Keith.M likes this.
  8. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Very interesting exercise. Going to have to give this some thought. Like the idea of using actual current agency standards /ideas but not identifying which agency they come from if they are used.
  9. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    One issue with making a perfect agency is answer the question 'perfect for who?' Some people like a modular approach with a bare bones basic OW course to get certified & get started, and some people believe the basic OW course should be much more rigorous, basically like OW, AOW & Rescue with greater demands for basic skills, dive planning, buddy skill performance and navigation competence, I suspect. And in a past thread there was an instructor who believed divers should be certified with competence in local conditions in mind, not just travel diving (so if you live near the north Atlantic seacoast, your course is gonna be harder than somebody living on Bonaire).

    While an agency could in theory have separate courses, that agency would still be criticized by many for offering the option of the basic bare-bones course.

    Chris12day, RJP and Steve_C like this.
  10. SeaHorse81

    SeaHorse81 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: PA
    Consensus is impossible, and is not the point anyway. What we can do is gain a greater understanding of what it takes to create a functional and maximally beneficial agency, with what I suspect will be rather educational discussions of the practical benefits and limitations of various ideas. Maybe we'll even better appreciate what we already have when we spell out the difficulties of improving on them.

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