These days it's anybody that knows the difference between a ECU and a ESL or even a EIL but when it comes to the crunch is that important, seriously no it isn't. In the last decade I've trained General Stream,Light Engine, marine, and Power Equipment mechanics and even a few Heavy Vehicle mechanics to round it out, some quite good and some "oxygen thieves" if you know what I mean. Back in my day (as my father used to say to me) when I was trained things were quite different, you did a fitting and turning class and then Auto Electrical, not counting welding and diesel, with suspension, fuel systems and Transmissions both manual and auto chucked in as well as practical learning and theory, these days all of the above is virtually redundant as the government decided years ago a modular system was the American way and a multi-trained tradesman was not needed, these seperate courses were to be done by individuals trained fully it that area of their expertise. So the government never making mistakes have given us over the last 40 years a group of semi-skilled tradesman who can only do some jobs very well and most jobs hopelessly bad, I can't blame the individuals for that and it's sad when we import workers to do trades that we no longer are trained in. Many a time I have to “battle” with YouTube certified technicians who are chicken sexers working at Ingham’s poultry farms by day and keyboard warriors at night that have one model and know everything about all models without prompting, for those people a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!
So what is a good mechanic, easy a good mechanic can fix almost anything mechanical, ie a dishwasher, washing machine, 2 stroke either diesel or petrol, carby repair, vacuum wiper motor, horn, voltage regulator adjustment, speedo repair, front suspension repair either car, motorcycles, or trucks, differential, manual or automatic transmission repairs or adjustment, rewiring, use a lathe or mill, electric gate repair, fridge repairs, mower, outboard motor repairs, fix a radio or a air conditioner, seat upholstery, repair fuel tanks, to name a few things and be able to weld all metals that's a minimum. This type of mechanic is a dying race the guy you need when your vehicle is broken down at the "back of Bourke" who doesn't ask to see a computer but looks at how it can be fixed with the bare necessities of tools or equipment, my ex boss was such a bloke in the maintenance crews at Tobruk working on troop carrying trucks in Libya at 45-50C in the desert with German Stuka"s strafing them while bullets and mortars were going off all round him while nonchantly asking where that 1/2 ring spanner was, that's the type of mechanic that we need now not guys that are thinking of more body art and piercings, and wearing baseball caps back the front or trendy overalls and have sold their soul to the Snap-On (Snap-Off)agent.
My apprentice at Mussett’s once told a smart arse customer how to time his Triumph after this guy kept annoying him, the customer had a pre-1968 model with no timing strobe hole and he wished to check it with a timing light he was politely told " Put the gearbox in top gear then set the engine at TDC on the firing stroke then turn the motor back 38 deg or 3/8 inch, mark the tyre with chalk level with the swing arm, then start the motorcycle select top gear and sit the revs on 2500 and use the swingarm as the timing mark" I often wonder how long this bloke persisted pointing his timing light at the tyre and altering the timing trying to get it adjusted. The old saying " Bullshit baffles brains" only works if your the real mechanic.