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'Take licensing seriously'

Vehicle technician licensing policed by an independent organisation needs to be implemented in order to create a “level playing field” that consumers will take seriously.

Industry analyst Brian Taylor, speaking at the AM Aftermarket Conference last week, called for the industry to implement a licensing system, similar to that of aircraft technicians, where vehicles are serviced and repaired only by licensed technicians. He proposes that the licences should be product-led, awarded by carmakers and equipment suppliers, with technicians serving an approved apprenticeship and passing academic exams.

“In some ways it is not too far from the new authorised repairer system,” says Taylor. “So maybe the vehicle assemblers should extend this by launching their own licensing scheme. One that is open to all types of installer.”

Technicians would be issued with a licence once they had passed a series of courses that cover a particular model. The licence could be used only at businesses that had the facilities and equipment to support this level of expertise, whether they were franchised, authorised or non-authorised independent repairers.

“We will need an overriding body to manage this, one that has links to vehicle assemblers and component makers,” says Taylor. “Maybe the SMMT Aftermarket section should be floated off and restructured with the involvement of other interested parties. It could even be renamed the Aftermarket Licensing Board because it will need to be seen as a new independent organisation before garages will take it seriously.”

The RMI welcomed the debate, although it raises questions over carmakers' issuing licences. “It could lead to a situation where one manufacturer does not recognise another's standards, so a fully trained technician would not be given a licence. That would add complication and cost,” says Alan Pulham, RMI franchised dealer director.

The RMI has developed a voluntary scheme, which is currently going for OFT recognition.

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