The IMI has set a target of 5,000 accredited technicians by March 2007.
Much of the growth has come via carmakers’ training academies – to date, 16 carmakers have signed up – and large stakeholders like Nationwide Autocentres and Unipart. The challenge now, says the IMI, is to attract smaller independents.
“We are being active with roadshows and attending colleges up and down the country to reach and engage with independents,” says IMI head of public relations Stuart Brookes. “Awareness is rising; now we need to convert that into accredited registrations.”
He is confident that by the time of the first reassessments in around four years’ time (ATA technicians are reassessed every five years for skills competency), the scheme will be absorbed into industry culture.
ATA has this year been rolled out to the motorcycle sector, while a pilot scheme has been launched for roadside assistance. It is also embedded into the PAS125 standard being developed for the bodyshop industry, while discussions have started for a scheme to cover service advisors in aftermarket operations.
The IMI does not rule out extending the model to the showroom floor to cover sales staff.
It has also rolled out a ‘Supporting ATA’ brand for companies that don’t have technicians, but who want to be seen to be supporting the industry initiative and want to encourage their customers to put their technicians through the programme. Members include Autodata and Exponentia.
The IMI will be launching a recruitment drive at the British International Motor Show with its ‘proud to be a professional’ campaign. Its membership is steady at 25,000, with the 2,000 new members who join each year offsetting the 2,000 who leave through retirement or going to other non-motor jobs.
Younger employees are a key target market. The IMI wants to reduce its average membership age from 45 to below 40 within five years. This year it hopes to recruit 2,500 new members.