Automotive industry seeks to improve skill levels

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 14 March 2008



(2008), "Automotive industry seeks to improve skill levels", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Automotive industry seeks to improve skill levels

Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 40, Issue 2.

Automotive industry seeks to improve skill levels

The automotive-skills division of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has embarked on a sector qualifications strategy (SQS), which constitutes one of the IMI’s recently announced five “big wins” to help the sector to improve skill levels and performance.

Over the next six months, the automotive-skills division will hold a series of consultations across the UK to draft and finalize an SQS that is employer-led and addresses key issues such as necessary improvements in technological, customer-facing and management skills, opportunities for career progression and staff turnover.

Research carried out within the sector over the past few years has identified that existing qualifications are not equipping employees with the required skills and competence. A reform of the whole vocational landscape aims to align education and training more closely with industry, so that future Government-funded qualifications are more desirable, relevant and flexible. This could involve a revamp of apprenticeships and the inclusion of sector-specific accredited programs, such as Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA), on the national qualifications framework. In addition, rapid advances in vehicle technology will be considered, to enable awarding bodies to “plug in” new content and “unplug” redundant topics more easily.

Steve Scofield, head of skill development for the IMI’s automotive-skills division, heads the project, which is co-ordinated by an independent automotive consultant, Stirling Wood.

Commented Steve Scofield: “By encouraging businesses to have their say in the development of a fresh qualifications structure, we will ensure that the retail motor industry has a platform for skill development which is fit for purpose in the years ahead. We are looking for some champions across the whole sector to contribute to this process as, ultimately, it aims to improve business efficiency and profitability.”

A high-level steering group representing the whole sector has been assembled to oversee the SQS project. Following approval by senior policy makers and funding bodies, implementation of the SQS will begin in July 2008. The work should be finished by the end of 2009.

Supporting the aims of the SQS, Kevin Watkins, general manager of the Toyota and Lexus academies, who is a member of the steering group, said: “This is a unique opportunity for the industry to establish a long-term platform for skill development that meets the needs of the individual and employers. The ability to attract talented people, who are well managed, afforded appropriate training and development and happy in their place of work, is fundamental to delivering an excellent customer experience and a profitable business.”

The IMI is the professional association for people working in the retail motor industry and the Sector Skills Council for the automotive sector, part of the Skills for Business network. It is also the governing body for the Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme, which has some 6,000 accredited technicians.

Skills for Business is the UK-wide network of 25 Sector Skills Councils funded and supported by the Sector Skills Development Agency. Independent and employer-led, they drive forward skills development and productivity throughout the UK.

The “big wins” of the IMI’s automotive-skills division are: 14 to 19-year-old provision; adult learning; careers; management and leadership; and a sector qualifications strategy.

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