It hopes the post will be filled with a commencement date of January 2009.
The COO will complement the role of chief financial officer, Allan Tyrer. Both will report to chief executive Sarah Sillars.
From April 2009, Sillars' role is expected to change to that of executive chairwoman, and current chairman Steve Nash will become president.
These changes, backed by the IMI's executive board but subject to approval at its AGM this October, are intended to enable the increasing demands on the chairmen of Sector Skills Councils to be met.