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IMI skills scheme launched

A national accreditation scheme for body fitters, painters and panel repair technicians has been launched by the Institute of the Motor Industry and training organisation Thatcham.

The programme is in response to research carried out by the IMI last year, which found a significant shortage of highly skilled bodyshop technicians, minimal development training and a general absence of structured process in technician recruitment. The number of skilled workers in the bodyshop sector, dropped 3000 to 54,000 this year.

“This initiative answers the findings of our research, which identified a need for a rigorous and consistently applied process of assessing, developing and recognising technical skills in the motor industry,” says IMI chief executive, Sarah Sillars.

The accreditation programme includes a one-day practical assessment and an online examination from the IMI. Successful technicians will be accredited for two years, after which their validation must be renewed with a re-assessment.

The scheme is being supported by crash repair distributor, Brown Brothers. It aims to give individuals specific industry recognition for their professional competence, which the IMI and Thatcham claim will encourage technicians to seek accreditation as a means of improving their employability and status. “The crash repair industry desperately needs to attract tomorrow's technicians, and a vital element in this is a career structure for advancement through the recognition of personal skill levels,” says Thatcham chief executive, Peter Roberts.

The initial fee for the programme is £195 per technician and it hopes to attract approximately 400 applicants in its first full year.

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