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Government funding issue puts cloud on ARMS launch

Automotive Skills, the sector skills council for the retail motor industry, has launched its ground-breaking management scheme amid concerns about a lack of Government funding for automotive training.

The Automotive Retail Management Standards (ARMS) is a new national qualification jointly awarded by the Institute of the Motor Industry and the Chartered Management Institute.

Developed by the industry itself – key architects included Sue Brownson of Blue Bell; Ian Coomber, former Vauxhall sales and marketing director; and Toyota GB managing director Graham Smith – ARMS enables managers to follow a structured development process to enhance their leadership and managerial competency.

“Identifying tomorrow’s leaders and developing their potential is critically important in securing the industry’s future,” says Patricia Richards, Automotive Skills chief executive. “ARMS will deliver tangible benefits both to staff and to business productivity.”

Retailers will be able to take part at a growing number of further and higher education colleges, but Richards also hopes the new qualifications will encourage managers at non-automotive companies to consider a career in motor retail. “We need to improve the reputation of the industry to get more non-automotive people involved, and ARMS will help by raising standards and providing a clear career path.”

However, funding could become an issue with the Learning and Skills Council already showing a lack of continuity over allocation, which is affecting the IMI’s recently launched NVQ Level 4.

Retailers are finding it difficult to source subsidies, even though the award qualifies for funding. According to the LSC, which is split into 47 operations, that’s no guarantee that funding will be granted.

Peter Johnson, Chairman of both Automotive Skills and Inchcape plc, believes the Government can and will step in to sort out the problem. “It is sad if there is an issue with sourcing funding, especially for smaller retailers that don’t have the resources of a large plc,” says Johnson. “The Government does intend to tackle this issue – we just have to help them to determine where the funds go.”

  • Fred Maguire has resigned from the Automotive Skills board, citing personal circumstances. A successor will be announced in October.
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