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Government Skills drive will benefit beleaguered motor industry says professional association


For the first time, a national benchmark for determining skill levels among motor vehicle technicians could become a reality, following today’s launch of the Government’s Skills Strategy White Paper.

Research carried out by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) highlighted that up to 50% of technicians working in the retail motor industry do not possess a nationally recognised qualification. The IMI, which is the professional association for individuals employed in the motor industry and the leading awarding body for qualifications in the automotive sector, is calling on employers to back the Government’s proposals, which are designed to support and fund the acquisition of much-needed skills.

Within the proposals, the Skills Strategy would introduce new flexibility to adult learning, which would entitle those in employment to access funding to achieve a minimum Level 2 qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs), with the potential for progression to Level 3 (equivalent to 2 A-Levels). It is estimated that 7.3 million adults in the UK, 30% of the working population, do not have a Level 2 or equivalent qualification.*

Serious skill shortages have blighted the retail motor industry, which have been exacerbated by the pace of new technology and increasing vehicle sophistication. The IMI’s unique research in this sector also noted a significant lack of competence assessment of technicians, minimal career structure and staff turnover of up to 40% per annum, all of which the professional association believes, could be tackled through this new approach to training and education.

Additionally, the Modern Apprenticeship is to be revitalised under changes to the 14-19 curriculum, by enabling successful apprentices to enter higher education via the vocational route, onto degree programmes, for example. This has also been welcomed by the IMI, which recently launched the first Pre-Apprenticeship programme for 14-16 year olds, linking schools with colleges of further education, enabling students to get a taste of industry and a vocational qualification to complement their academic studies.

Alan Mackrill, IMI director of learning and skills, said today:

"For the first time, this new Skills Strategy could offer clear learning progression from the age of 14, which could bring tremendous benefits to the motor industry in terms of improving both recruitment and retention of qualified individuals. We cannot maintain a situation where it is still possible for someone who is unqualified to work in such a complex and potentially dangerous environment as a modern garage. What’s more, this presents a great opportunity to raise the status of skilled people."

*Statistic from Department for Education and Skills.