This announcement represents a stark contrast to the number of garages which signed up for the Kitemark Automotive accreditation scheme. Out of 25,000, fewer than 100 garages signed up for the scheme, with just three gaining licences from the British Standards Institute this week.
Citroën, Ferrari, Fiat, Jaguar and Land Rover are the latest manufacturers to join the ATA network, which now encompasses 18 specific vehicle makes. One of the pilot partners for ATA, VW Group, has expanded its involvement to include the following brands: Audi; Seat; Skoda; VW Passenger Cars and VW Light Commercial Vehicles.
Mondial Assistance, Nationwide Autocentres and Unipart are also rolling out the initiative across their respective networks this year to encourage technicians to seek accreditation.
After signing a Code of Conduct, technicians must pass a series of practical tasks and an on-line knowledge test. Successful individuals are issued with a photo identity card and their employment details are listed on the ATA web-site. All registrants must be re-assessed after five years to maintain their credentials.
Having been involved in the pilot phase of ATA and employing a number of accredited technicians, Simon Wight, managing director, Whites Motors, a Unipart Car Care Centre in Southsea, said: "Accreditation is the only way forward as technology is changing at a very fast pace, so it is vital for everyone to keep up to date.
Just because a technician achieved his apprenticeship 20 years ago doesn't mean that he is up to date with current technology. ATA gives great benefit to the employer and employee and is this year’s must have."
Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, added: "We are extremely encouraged at how ATA has rallied the industry and delivered real value to those who have taken part so far. The momentum is building and we expect a significant increase in the number of accredited technicians this year."