Vehicle Technician licensing awaits election result

Major party leaders have presented opposing stances on licensing automotive technicians to the IMI

This suggests that the future of the issue may rest on the results of the most closely fought election battle in a generation.

Parties were responding to a letter from IMI CEO Steve Nash, which explained that anyone can work on a car commercially without qualification or training in the UK. Steve argued that a license was necessary to help consumers make safe choices about where their car is serviced.

Responses showed that a Labour government would support licensing if elected on 7 May. Party leader Ed Miliband stated, ‘We will give the industry the tools you say you need to tackle free riding employers who do not train, such the powers to set levies and licences to practice – enabling employers to drive up standards and build stronger training routes within the sector. We hope to work with the IMI on this agenda in Government.’

However, the Conservatives would need further persuasion, with Prime Minister David Cameron commenting, ‘We will certainly consider your suggestion about licensing for automotive technicians, although I hope you will appreciate that any policies would need to support our principles of de-regulation and reducing industry costs.’

Further responses were received from UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, with Farage open to dialogue on the issue in the future, should the party make significant gains at the election. The IMI has also been offered the support of several MPs in the run up to the election, including Transport Select Committee member and Conservative MP Karl McCartney.

Steve Nash commented, ‘Given the responses we have received, governments led by the Conservatives or Labour would offer very different prospects for technician licensing. A Labour government could see licensing introduced in short order, whilst the Conservative Party would require more action from the industry. The IMI is committed to continue campaigning for licensing whatever the result of the election and will work with the new government to see this aim achieved.

‘What we can say is that the level of political response on licensing is extremely encouraging and shows how far we have come raising the profile of issues facing the vehicle servicing sector within parliament. The situation we find ourselves in is unsustainable. Businesses who invest in training cannot continue to compete with those who don’t in the face of rapid technological advances. This makes the licensing of skilled technicians more important than ever before, both for safety of road users and the protection of businesses.’