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Independent bodyshop launches training scheme

Howard Basford, the independent bodyshop group, has launched a £200,000 training initiative to transform its crash repair teams into ‘Super Technicians’.

The 300-employee company with nine bodyshop sites across the region has agreed to adopt the new Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) to ensure its personnel are equipped to cope with new technologies and materials in modern motor vehicles.

“The modern motor car has changed fundamentally in the last four years,” said Howard Basford chairman Tracy Howard, speaking from the company’s Ledsham, Wirral head quarters.

“Ninety per cent of the steels now being used in the construction of motor vehicles are high strength steels which require new skills and equipment for safe repair.” MO< The new ATA standard has been introduced by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

Neil Kirk, Howard Basford’s managing director, said: “We are presently investing £200,000 in training at sites across the North West. We believe our success is firmly built on our people and in order to support our ongoing growth strategy, it is essential we are seen as the ‘employer of choice’ by most capable people in our industry.”

Kirk said people outside the industry were not aware that it can take up to seven years to train a panel technician to full competency.

“Now, with the speed of technical changes arising from the launch of new models by vehicle manufacturers, ongoing personal development is more important than ever,” he added.

Last year Howard Basford announced a £500,000 investment in new welding equipment to ensure their bodyshop chain were equipped to deal with repairs to all types of modern motor vehicle.

Earlier this month the company’s Birkenhead site was awarded the new British Standards Institute quality assurance Kitemark and Howard announced his intention to achieve this recognition across all of the group’s sites within 12 months.

He said: “We would like to see the new ATA and BSI Standards being mandated as minimum standards to operate in the sector within three years. Most insurers appear to be embracing the new BSI standard and are likely to require the kitemark to be engaged as an insurer approved repair centre.”

Howard Basford currently has vacancies for 16 technicians across its north west sites, mainly panel and MET technicians.

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