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Motor industry unveils first national accreditation for technicians


A groundbreaking initiative to raise standards of car servicing and repair by testing the current competence of technicians working in the retail motor industry is launched today.

Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) is a voluntary assessment system designed to clearly recognise technical competence, raise the professional status and credibility of skilled individuals, provide a benchmark for technician recruitment and career development and significantly improve consumer confidence in the retail motor sector.

Having first signed a code of conduct, a technician must pass a series of timed practical tasks, adjudicated by an ATA-registered assessor and an on-line knowledge test, to achieve accreditation.

There are three levels of accreditation, reflecting an individual’s job role, experience and qualifications (Master Technician being the highest):

  • Service Maintenance Technician
  • Diagnostic Technician
  • Master Technician

Successful individuals are issued with a unique photo identity card, valid for five years and are listed on a public on-line register. ATA-registered technicians must be re-assessed after five years to maintain their credentials.

The assessments are based upon National Occupational Standards, to ensure they evolve with changing skills requirements and future innovations in technology. ATA has the backing of Automotive Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the retail motor industry.

Automotive Technician Accreditation has been developed over two years and trialled extensively with a number of founding partners, including: BMW; DaimlerChrysler; Durham Constabulary; Ford; Hertz; Nationwide Autocentres; Toyota and Unipart. Other vehicle manufacturers and industry stakeholders have since become involved, including Pendragon plc, the UK’s largest car retail group.

The following organisations are also supportive of the initiative: BSI Product Services; Department of Trade and Industry; Retail Motor Industry Federation; Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders; Trading Standards Institute; and Which?

Governance, moderation and administration of Automotive Technician Accreditation is the responsibility of The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

There are two routes to achieving Automotive Technician Accreditation status, both independently monitored by the IMI, to ensure a consistent process:

  • Via an ATA approved assessment centre, such as a training division of a national service and repair organisation; an independent automotive training provider; or college of further education.
  • Via an ATA approved vehicle manufacturer assessment programme.

The recommended fee for ATA assessment is under £195, although this may vary regionally. There is also an individual accreditation fee of £50, inclusive of registration, on-line testing, issuing of a photo identity card and all administration. The fees cover a period of five years and are exempt from VAT.

Dependent on the ATA level, areas in which technicians are assessed include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Braking systems
  • Customer liaison
  • Engine electrical systems
  • Engine mechanical
  • Instructional support
  • Supplementary Restraint System (SRS)
  • Transmission systems
  • Vehicle electrical systems
  • Vehicle safety and documentation
  • Wheel alignment and steering

Commenting on the launch of Automotive Technician Accreditation, Steve Nash, Aftersales Director, BMW, and IMI Chairman, said:

"The introduction of a unilateral benchmark of technical competence for the retail motor sector will clearly identify skilled individuals, which is as important to consumers as it is to employers seeking qualified technicians. ATA will reinforce efforts to improve career development and elevate the status of a highly important and creditable profession."

Full details of Automotive Technician Accreditation can be viewed at www.automotivetechnician.org.uk or by telephoning 01992 511521.