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IMI takes technical skills search to UK's schools

A bid to end the drought of qualified technicians is being launched by the Institute of the Motor Industry. With a current shortfall of more than 15,000 apprentices, the IMI wants to increase the number of skilled young people in the retail motor industry by giving school pupils the opportunity to study a technical discipline.

The RMI/Sewells Pay Guide reveals that more than two thirds of franchised dealers and 89 per cent of independent repairers are having problems recruiting apprentices, leading to a staffing crisis.

The new two-year IMI pre-apprenticeship qualification will be awarded to 14- to 16-year-olds and covers vehicle maintenance, body repair and refinishing. The first courses started in September.

Funded by the Department for Education and Skills, the IMI awards will be the cornerstone of the new technical certificates – a compulsory part of modern apprenticeships. Pupils will study the pre-apprenticeship alongside technology-based GCSEs such as engineering. The IMI will start promoting the qualifications in January, targeting secondary schools and careers advisers.

Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, claims colleges of further education struggling to recruit candidates on motor vehicle courses will benefit from local feeder schools giving pupils supervised access to workshops and equipment.

“This program will enable pupils to get a taste of the motor industry in their formative years and give them a fast track to becoming fully skilled,” she says. “Successful students starting now could well be running their own businesses by their late twenties.”

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