The voluntary scheme, run nationally with its members committed to an ethical code of conduct, works in collaboration with the industry and covers mechanical car repair, motorcycle, crash repair, vehicle estimating, glass and road assistance.
Trials will shortly begin for fast-fit, air-conditioning, End of Life Vehicles and parts modules.
Furthermore, the ATA recognizes the need for accreditation in ‘softer skills’ with a module in customer service under development. Management and sales accreditations are also being considered.
ATA has signed up around 4,100 technicians so far, receiving a big boost in numbers following the launch last year of the glass module.
Steve Nash, IMI chairman, says: “Increasing the number of individuals accredited is the cornerstone of the IMI business plan. Its five-year strategy focuses on improving the professional standards of individuals working in the retail motor industry and allied sectors, with the objective of recognizing 100,000 individuals by 2010.”
Each module is researched and developed in close consultation with leading industry experts in the specific subject area.
Ian Gillgrass, ATA development manager, says: “The ATA has to achieve what the industry wants.” This means they can be kept up-to-date with changing requirements and legislation. Gillgrass sees this as a strength: “This is the difference between a qualification and ATA: a qualification is fixed, whereas ATA lasts for five years, so we can keep our members up-to-date.”
Approved centres perform the assessments. Each site has to meet strict quality standards and is monitored to ensure the required standards are maintained.
The ultimate aim of the accreditation programme is to improve skills and career prospects for employees and to improve customer perceptions and confidence of the industry.