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The IMI calls for licensing of the retail motor trade

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is calling for licensing of the automotive retail sector following research revealing almost three quarters of motorists think that it already exists.

71% of the 2,600 British motorists surveyed said that they believed anyone working on a car commercially would have a license to do so.

However, there is currently no regulation governing individuals in the motor industry. There are currently an estimated 148,000 mechanics working without any verifiable care standard.

The research, conducted through Vital Research and Statistics, also showed 59% wouldn’t let anyone work on their car that didn’t know what they were doing, with only 10% knowing how to check a technician’s qualifications.

90% of the trade are in favour of the licensing and the IMI is seeking meetings with the leaders of all the main political parties ahead of the general election in order to push forward the case for licensing.

The IMI says UK consumers are completely unaware of how vulnerable they are.

They believe the Government is taking care of their safety and their rights, but they have a level of trust in their service provider, which may be entirely groundless.

IMI chief executive Steve Nash (pictured) said: “The majority of motorists choose a garage or mechanic without sufficient information to verify their competence to do the job.

"This is a serious cause for concern as data from Brake, the road safety charity, reports that there were more than 3,000 crashes in Britain were caused by vehicle defects as a result of inadequate maintenance in 2011.

“The proliferation of hybrid vehicles and complex driver assist systems has already increased the skills requirements for effective and safe working on modern vehicles. But currently there is no industry-wide license in place to ensure service technicians are properly qualified.  And without the proper training, car mechanics are increasingly putting themselves and motorists at risk.

“The template for licensing already exists IMI accreditation and our professional register, so there is no excuse for the Government to delay.

"Yet, by our calculations there are 148,000 mechanics whose skills and current competence we cannot verify. It is vital that this issue is addressed as quickly as possible.”



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  • Peter - 20/10/2014 15:51

    Yet another external agency trying to profit from an already squeezed sector. Consultants go to manufacturer with a profit making scheme,they charge them one fee and the cost is then quadrupled and passed onto the dealer and those failing to participate end up losing back end margin.

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  • Richard Curtis - 21/10/2014 10:27

    Should have a standard, too many complex vehicles around now that are being serviced and maintained by anyone who can wield a spanner. Don't suppose anyone would like it if any old tom dick or harry was found working on the plane they were due to fly off on their holiday on or doing the electrics on their house.

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  • Mal. - 21/10/2014 13:04

    Of course this has nothing at all to do with increasing revenue for the IMI wuth ATA does it? As for using the BRAKE Figures, these related to vehicles that had been inadequately maintained i.e. not been serviced as opposed to service r repair work carried out by "unlicenced" technicians. Also bear in mind that in most reputable garages the people repairing the vehicle have completed an industry apprenticeship, and then completed numerous other continuous training such as Manufacturer Training or BOSCH training and similar. This is more about the IMI controlling and making more money and securing their own future. Figures quoted and stories quoted in the press and even AM of late lump the industry together, i.e. Car Dealer fined for clocking vehicles - which really means a dodgy sole trader who in reality is nothing to do with the professional trade. In present times it is difficult for both Franchised Dealers and Independants to turn a profit, without someone else tuging on their purse strings for a perceived benefit, which in fact will do nothing to bring additional footfall through the door. Isn't it strange that every time the issue of licencing comes up it is always the IMI pushing it . . . .

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    • Richard - 21/10/2014 14:43

      @Mal. - An open question and no way directed to you alone, why does the market feel that ensuring its business (that means all repairers) have adequate accreditation for consumer safety, is a drain on purse strings. If business already have provision to qualify their staff, they have nothing to worry about. Turning a profit means offering a better service than your competitors. All I read is how dealers don't make any money, its been like for years and since I was in the trade yet dealer groups keep expanding and car sales keep increasing. Something is wrong somewhere but as you say if we cant distinguish the professional dealer from the sole trader, then the industry will never move on. I am not from the IMI but if you are a member then you should lobby the IMI as they represent all members so I would think their members support this

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    • Peter - 21/10/2014 15:29

      @Richard - Where does it stop? The industry is spending millions every year maintaining standards through manufacturer led programmes,MOT accreditation ,government backed apprenticeships,health and safety etc etc.... We have all subscribed to various charters over the years,good garage guides,you name it we have all been there but in reality do the customers research these accreditations before visiting ....no they don't yet bodies like the IMI spend half their lives scaremongering dealers into believing if we don't participate then the customers will go elsewhere ....absolute tosh! Not once in 15 years has a customer asked if we are members if an industry body or have our staff been on any IMI backed training programme and that speaks volumes .

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    • Mal - 21/10/2014 16:02

      @Richard - Typically it is the IMI calling for licencing, which in my mind will no doubt reflect the business case they've been presenting for years, the key words are " 71% of the 2,600 British motorists surveyed said that they believed anyone working on a car commercially would have a license to do so" but we have no idea of the context of the question. If I stop 2500 motorists and ask "do you believe any technician repairing your car should have a licence to do so" then the resounding response will be "yes". If I asked "do you believe the technician repairing your car should be QUALIFIED to do so" I suspect 98% would answer yes . . . . and if you go to any reputable garage you will find that the technicians are qualified. Manufacturers and Independants like Kwik-Fit and Halfords have committed to ATA, but in the real world I dont see any benefit to the business in terms of a return on your investment (I dont doubt the IMI would say otherwise but then they would wouldn't they). Customers use a garage based upon recommendation and satisfaction based upon previous levels of service, hence those that do that job properly and look after customers see return customers again and again. An ATA qualification is no moroe a guarantee of good service than a city and guilds qualification, this press release is all about the IMI trying to guarantee an income stream . . . . bear in mind this is the same organisation that insisted a few years ago that without an Automotive Retail Management Standard Qualification Managers would be unable to get a job in the Industry, Manufacturers supported it as did a number of dealer groups and it fell flat on its face after massive investment.

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  • Chris Paxton - 22/12/2014 20:05

    Re Nash's reference to 3,000 crashes - note this was 'inadequate maintenance' by the owners, not poor standards of garage workmanship. The vast majority of accidents are down to driver error. 'Cowboys' garages are now vulnerable to criticism on social media sites. Independents get a lot of business thro word of mouth and have a reputation to protect. Franchised workshop standards are monitored by the manufacturers. Apart from that, there are agencies for dealing with complaints (RMI, Trading Standards, Citizens Advice). The IMI does good work on basic benchmarking, but there's no justification for a licensing authority (i.e. the IMI) that will be just another Quango creating more red tape and raking in licensing income.

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