"A robust and rigorously applied system of technician accreditation in the retail motor industry is achievable and it would bring major benefits to all stakeholders, consumers included," Sarah Sillars, chief executive, Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) said today, in response to the findings of a Consumers’ Association survey.
The research of 1,000 car owners (published today in the March issue of Which?) highlights overwhelming public support for an accreditation scheme for vehicle technicians. The IMI, which is the professional association for individuals working in the retail motor industry, has campaigned for the introduction of such an initiative to raise standards, following its own industry research, published in 2003. It is currently developing a model for technician accreditation with the co-operation of major organisations including BMW, Harley-Davidson UK, Kwik-Fit and Toyota.
The concept would involve technicians being regularly assessed, voluntarily, based on national occupational standards, which would demand consistently high levels of theoretical knowledge and practical competence.
Continued, Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive:
"There is a great opportunity to raise the status of competent skilled people in the motor industry as well as making this sector more aspirational for young people considering a career. Modern vehicles incorporate increasingly sophisticated technologies and materials so a technician has to be highly skilled when it comes to servicing and repair."
Geoff Davies, general manager, Toyota Academy, said:
"Toyota is committed to remaining at the forefront of technical skills development. It is our view that the value of proving competence through skills testing cannot be overstated. This approach is central to the concept of a technician accreditation programme and for that reason, Toyota is actively involved in bringing it to fruition."
A household name for motorcyclists world-wide, Harley Davidson UK is involved in developing a technician accreditation programme for all its motorcycle technicians. Garry Brumfitt, managing director of Harley Davidson UK comments:
"Harley Davidson sees technician accreditation as a way to establish common levels of technical competence amongst all motorcycle technicians and to clearly identify technicians who have up-to-date skills.
We are taking the lead in implementing such a scheme, in partnership with the IMI, because we believe it is right for our customers, for our technicians and for our business."
The Consumers’ Association research also found that the majority of those surveyed (87%) would be prepared to pay an additional £5, based on a service of £150, to ensure that their vehicle was in the hands of a fully competent and qualified technician, who was regulated in some way.