The relentless pace of vehicle technology, a need to recruit and train technicians of the future and ensuring the currency of lecturers’ skills has prompted the UK motor industry to launch a unique initiative in support of the further education sector, which is responsible for training more than 50,000 young people registered on motor vehicle qualifications, including some 6,000 apprentices annually. Following a bidding process, open to more than 300 institutions offering automotive training in the UK, ten ‘pathfinder’ centres have been selected to receive significant assistance from an industry consortium, which includes: the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the retail motor sector’s professional association and major awarding body; bluecycle, the UK’s largest on-line auto salvage auction specialist; Snap-on and Autodata, a publisher and supplier of automotive technical information in Europe. Recognising the challenges faced by the FE sector in funding investment in facilities, products and vehicles, the chosen centres, all of which are approved by the IMI to deliver national qualifications, will receive a complimentary package of support over the next three years. This includes the provision of vehicles, Snap-on diagnostic equipment, access to technical data and comprehensive training for lecturer staff both off-site and complemented by visits from Snap-on’s technical support team. In return, the initiative will require participating centres to promote their involvement to local industry, careers offices and schools, as part of the IMI’s “Proud to be professional” campaign, launched last year to step up efforts to attract high calibre students to the benefits of a vocational apprenticeship as a credible and rewarding alternative to university. The campaign also challenges outdated public perceptions of the motor sector, by stressing the progress being made by the industry to promote and recognise competence and ethical behaviour, which is championed by the IMI and endorsed by the participating stakeholders. Research conducted by the Learning and Skills Council(xxx) reveals vacancies in the retail motor sector totalling some 11,500, the majority of which are for skilled technicians. Advanced systems, similar to that found in state-of-the-art fighter aircraft such as head-up display, fibre optics, controlled area networks (CAN), for example, are increasingly commonplace on new cars, demanding extreme proficiency of technicians in electronics and diagnostics. The new scheme will enable students and staff to gain in-depth experience of a variety of current production models. “Snap-on has a sincere belief and a clear vision that by working together with other key businesses we can make a difference to how we train new and existing technicians to deal with the latest technology used on the motor vehicles of today and in the future. “By supporting professional accreditation standards like ATA, we believe we can help to improve the public’s perception of the UK motor industry,” says Terry Smith, European Marketing Manager, Snap-on Diagnostics.