Opinion Former Article

SOE: New IRTE alliance focuses on recognising highly-skilled CV technicians

IRTE and IMI to collaborate on development of irtec Licensing Scheme.

A shot in the arm for the commercial vehicle sector's drive to improve standards is announced today at the 2008 Commercial Vehicle Show. Growing the voluntary irtec Licensing Scheme that ensures the competence of commercial vehicle technicians is the aim of a new agreement between the IRTE (a professional sector of the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE)) and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), this is the government-recognised Sector Skills Council for the industry.

Announcing the joint collaboration on the irtec scheme, Nick Jones, Chief Executive, SOE, said that a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations now paves the way for improved skills levels and greater recognition of a benchmark standard of competence in the commercial vehicle and passenger transport maintenance and repair industry:

"This agreement between the IRTE and the IMI will allow us to make major headway in generating further take-up of irtec and strengthening it for the future. By harnessing the expertise and experience of the IRTE in the commercial vehicle sector, particularly in relation to standards, and the administrative and developmental support of the IMI, I am confident this will be a strong and valuable partnership, whilst we will remain wholly independent organisations."

Echoing his comments, Sarah Sillars, Chief Executive, IMI, said:

"This new deal is an important and very welcome step forward in support of skills development for the commercial vehicle industry. As the Sector Skills Council, the IMI's role is to make a difference to employers and we are delighted to bring our experience and expertise to bear in support of the IRTE."

"We both share ambitions to raise professional standards of individuals for the benefit of business, so this represents a positive joined-up approach," she continued.

As part of the new agreement, the IMI and its qualifications subsidiary, IMI Awards, will be responsible for managing the quality assurance process for the irtec scheme, which will include the approval of new testing centres, monitoring of the assessments and assessors and working with other qualification bodies who have shown an interest in supporting the scheme.

The IRTE and IMI will also work together to develop future irtec assessments, as well as new National Occupational Standards and vocational qualification frameworks for the commercial vehicle sector, to ensure that the evolving needs of employers are met.

Responsibility for the irtec register of successfully licensed individuals will remain with the IRTE but the IMI takes over the administration process for those wanting to do the assessment and the issuing of the irtec licence to those who pass.

Mike Willis, Principal of the Ford College at Daventry, which supports both irtec and the IMI-governed Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme in the light vehicle sector, welcomed the agreement:

"This collaboration between IRTE and IMI will have major benefits for Ford, which has technicians accredited in both the irtec and ATA schemes. The bottom line is that we are driving up standards through the recognition of current competence amongst our car and commercial vehicle technicians. It's in all our interests that there is one single minded approach to achieving a common ambition."


Editor's notes:

For irtec/IRTE/SOE enquiries please contact:

Andrea Dick
Communications & Marketing Manager
020 7630 1111 / 07867 804 977
David Jones
Editorial & PR Coordinator
020 7630 1111 / 0790 881 2095

For IMI enquiries please contact:

Stuart Brooks
Head of PR & Public Affairs
01992 511 521
Simon Bennett
PR Executive
01992 511 521

IRTE (Institute of Road Transport Engineers)
The IRTE (Institute of Road Transport Engineers), one of the most respected names in UK transport, has been recognised as an impartial voice of the industry since 1947.
A Professional Sector of the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), IRTE publishes an industry-leading technical journal, Transport Engineer, every month.
Transport Engineer is renowned for its incisive coverage of key issues, authoritative reporting, news analysis and informed comment.
IRTE also hosts regular technical seminars, forums and works alongside the DfT to
promote efficiency and best practice. Recent events include trips and falls from vehicles,
truck operation, fuel efficiency and the Road Safety Act.

IRTE's technical committee also produces regular industry guidance on key topics.

Recent publications include: A Best Practice Guide towards Tachograph Systems Compliance, Roadworthiness: Industry Best Practice, Coupling or Uncoupling & Parking of Large Goods Vehicle Trailers and Tail Lift - Specification Guide for Road Vehicles.

IRTE members come from a wide variety of transport-related roles. These include workshop managers, fleet engineers, transport managers, company directors, apprentices and technicians in the light and heavy goods vehicle and bus and coach sectors.

irtec (the I should always be in lower case) is a renewable voluntary testing and assessment scheme that certifies theoretical and practical skills of PCV Heavy Goods and light commercial vehicle technicians.

An irtec Licence proves commitment to safety and professional development by technicians and employers alike.

irtec licences are awarded at three levels, depending on the candidate's skill and experience Once an irtec licence is issued, the technician is listed on a national register and bound by a code of conduct. The licence is valid for 5 years, after which the licence holder must undergo reassessment for renewal

Further details are available from the irtec website at www.irtec.org.uk.

SOE (Society of Operations Engineers)
SOE is a professional membership organisation that successfully represents some 17,000 individuals and companies in engineering. It supports and encourages members throughout their careers and is committed to their ongoing growth and personal

Through a network of trustees, industry partners and members SOE promotes best practice in operational and health and safety initiatives. SOE offers members continuous professional development and support throughout their careers, providing definitive recognition for both achievement and status. The organisation is a Licensed Member of ECUK and can nominate members for ECUK registration at EngTech, IEng and CEng levels.

SOE represents the Professional Sectors IRTE, IPlantE and BES and also runs the irtec Licensing Scheme.

Further details are available from the SOE website at www.soe.org.uk.

The IMI is the professional association for individuals employed across the whole motor industry and is the Sector Skills Council for the automotive sector, part of the Skills for Business network.

The IMI is also the governing body for the Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme within the light vehicle and crash repair sectors. Launched in 2005, the scheme has over 8,000 accredited technicians in a number of disciplines including car and motorcycle maintenance, autoglazing, body repair and estimating. A number of additional models are due to roll-out in 2008/9.

Skills for Business are the UK-wide network of 25 Sector Skills Councils. Independent and employer-led, they are uniquely placed to drive forward skills development and productivity throughout the UK. As the UK's leading source of labour market intelligence and insight, the Skills for Business network are an authority on skills issues, helping to shape public policy and practice. Each Sector Skills Council is licensed by the governments of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and receives funding from public sources.

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