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"That is why a lot of the standards are the same."
I've yet to see two agencies with the same standards. Some actually have pretty good standards (although they could all use improvement) while others are in sad shape. Those that are in sad shape are the fault of the particular agency, not the RSTC nor the "industry." I agree if consumers wouldn't buy the shoddy classes, they'd disappear. OTOH, if shoddy classes didn't exist, noone would buy them. Standards were lowered by an agency before the 1st person selected a class with low standards. The agencies with low standards not only sell their classes, they sell many people on the idea it's not their fault and others on the idea all standards are the same.
Do you believe agencies should not be held accountable for low standards?
I believe you hit the nail on the head with this statement. With out accountability. How would a new OW diver know their skills were lacking? You did the course, you got the card, you booked the trip, you jumped in and then you found out you are in serious trouble.
Having the same standards is a start but in no way is that the final answer that solve this issue, with out some way to insure the standards are being met what good are they?
No, it isn't. No two agencies have the same standards and I doubt they ever will. I'm not even sure such an approach is desirable.
How would it be possible to have accountability with out a standard by which to judge it?
Accountability can only be set as a practice once a standard is set to account by. Setting a minimum standard with a form of accountability is not all that difficult. It's been done in many other areas of our society. Industrial standards, automotive standards, building and codes standards, hazemat standards, medical standards, osha, etc, etc. The result of these standards has made the respected fields much safer places to work in, vehicles safer to drive, medicine safer to take.......... All of these industries at one point or another said they would never adhere to a set of standards or submit to being monitored either, I think we all can see the result of that.
I think we can all also agree that there is a basic amount of knowledge and skill every diver should have prior to receiving their c-card or they should not receive it until these minimum's can be met and accounted for. The basic standards could be debated by those that are much smarter than I.
With many industries there are standards set-up and a form of accountability in place. There are numbers that can be called to report problems, when a certain number of problems occur with in a certain area there is an investigation launched and the problem corrected.
In other words if there were an abnormal amount of complaints filed regarding a particular instructors students it could be investigated and corrected by either assisting that instructor to perform better or get rid of them. If it turns out to be an abnormal amount of instructors with one agency than that could be dealt with. Eventually the industry would benefit as a whole.
I am not one that believes in big government but there are certain areas that are beneficial for the overall well being of the masses.
I DO, however, want at least one AGENCY involved in this. If a better mousetrap is available, let the market decide.
The problem is that right now there's a race to the bottom, because there are NO BETTER CHOICES AVAILABLE to the recreational diver.
Genesis, I think you know by a lot of my reply's that we have been on the same side of the fence on most issues. I am no stranger to business. I very much dislike government intervention but.........as a whole the raising of standards and the accountability of those standards has raised the bar and benefited our company by putting the small fly-by-night operator out because they could not perform to the same level we could, in the end the consumer benefits.
You and I both know that the existence of one agency will never happen in the real world. As long as the market is there, there is going to be multiple agencies, with out some form of regulation it is a free for all.
I am not so sure having one agency would even be the answer as the old saying goes "absolute power corrupts absolutely". What would stop a single agency from abusing the power with no intervention. The market? possibly but by the time that happens many will be injured or dead.
All members of the RSTC are mandated to have the same basic standards not unlike building codes in construction. and like building codes The reality is that these standards are a set of "minimums" and from there is where the different agencies differ.
The RSTC minimums are excellent in their intent. Some agencies stick pretty close to the RSTC minimums while other exceed them in differing areas but none of them can fall below them in any way shape or form...
I would liken it to purchasing a rack dive trip. Everyone gets the same thing but some trip leaders add beach BBQ's, Welcome Drinks, Etc. to enhance their vision of what the end product should be and to attempt to attract people who like the "extra" value.
Keep in mind that not falling below RSTC standards is for RSTC members only. NAUI for example sticks to the minimums and they are recognized by the RSTC but they are not a member, why I don't know. As I Understand it PADI and IDEA are the two main members and agencies like SSI, PDIC and others sit on the advisory board as well.
Ultimately you cannot keep ultimate controll over the instructors you certify and for that very reason it would be impossible to lay complete liability for bad instruction or good instruction at he feet of any one agency.
Additionally some instructors take their positions very seriously while others do not. This is true of instructors trained by all agencies.
So where does that leave us? Find a good instructor with a course you feel is right for you and don't worry about the agency they teach for.