A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE), which is a Professional Sector of the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE). The three organisations have agreed to work together to create a career path for motivated and inspired vehicle technicians.
There are approximately 30,000 technicians maintaining O-licensed vehicles and semi-trailers in the UK. With rapid advancements in vehicle technology in recent years, focusing particularly on cleaner and more environmentally efficient power trains, and with Euro 6 engined vehicles becoming mainstream for all new commercial vehicles from the end of 2013, training and assessment of technicians is of vital importance.
However, there are a lack of training options for premium technicians and fleet engineers with higher skill requirements who maintain these vehicles, and vehicle operators are increasingly concerned that vehicle downtime and higher costs will become more burdensome in the future unless industry starts to prepare.
Theo de Pencier, FTA’s Chief Executive, said: "Some vehicle operators are already experiencing excessive vehicle downtime due to a lack of higher-level engineers, emphasising the long overdue need to consult with the industry to provide a structured career path for premium technicians and fleet engineers. It is also important to start recognising and valuing these skills when acquired. Vehicle downtime is bad news for the supply chain, especially when the vehicles affected may be the newest and cleanest in the fleet."
James Hobbs, Director of Marketing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said: "This agreement will help ensure the UK makes the most of the home-grown talent we have in vehicle engineering. We need to ensure the UK can maintain and improve the cutting-edge skills needed to develop the country’s future transport infrastructure."
SOE Chief Executive Nick Jones added: "The IRTE is proud to work with FTA and IMechE on this joint initiative that will directly benefit the industry, and provide a path for committed technicians to develop their careers. The evolving skills of technicians are crucial in creating efficient and environmentally sustainable commercial vehicle maintenance. It is imperative we, as representatives of engineering professionals, provide the platforms to enable our technicians to continue their vital work."
The three organisations have agreed to work together to establish a joint steering group with the aim of creating a career path for motivated and inspired technicians. Between them they will organise industry consultation reviews during 2012; the longer term aim will be to produce an industry agreed technical syllabus that is relevant to current industry needs but which also prepares technicians and technical managers for the future as new technology vehicles are incorporated into modern fleets.
de Pencier concluded: "Sophisticated electronics are now standard and will only grow more complex with greater vehicle volumes of Euro 6, hybrid and electric powertrains. Our partnership is a win for fleet operators, repair workshops and the technician or fleet engineer; the primary aim is to provide the skills required to improve repair diagnostics of modern, high tech vehicles."