Opinion: We need a single united campaign to improve industry reputation

GW columnist, Andy Parsons talks licensing and suggests why the latest petition is falling short of its goals

Opinion: We need a single united campaign to improve industry reputation
Image: Bigstock.

Everyone in the industry is aware that anyone can open up a garage business and start repairing cars – so why has a recent petition which called for the introduction of a licence to practice as vehicle mechanic only received 800 signatures?

Andy Parsons of Shortfield Garage in Surrey.

For a petition to get a government response it must attract 10,000 signatures and at 100,000 it’s considered for debate in Parliament.

With just days left before the petition is closed, Mohammad Shafiqul Haque’s petition clearly falls short of these numbers.

Looking at the petition’s map, only three areas have over eight signatures and over 60 areas have none.

800 is less than one per cent of constituents – it makes you think that maybe industry licensing isn’t necessary after all.

However, Professor Saker from Loughborough University along with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) have just produced a new report, arguing that the pace of technological change makes a licencing system imperative.

The report suggests it should be illegal for untrained technicians to work on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Related: Industry licensing debate gets reignited but who’s listening? 

So, where’s Mohammed gone wrong?

Well I for one have only recently became aware of it having read about it on Garage Wire, so I’d suggest many others have been unaware of it until now, at the final stages of the petition.

I’d have had Facebook campaigns, tweeted rants on Twitter, promoted on Instagram and set up a website in a bid to attract press interest from the outset.

Many large bodies, such as the IMI, SMMT, RAC, AA and Trust My Garage, to name a few, have also tried or are trying to introduce schemes.

Many think that a minimum standard in the form of a government-issued ‘licence’ would deter rogue mechanics and enhance the reputation of repair garages among the motoring public.

Others believe that licensing is unnecessary and would only add an expensive level of bureaucracy to the industry – red tape would almost certainly force up costs for both garages and the consumer.

Let’s face it, we seem to have more to do and more to pay for nowadays, whether it’s your PPL for turning on the workshop radio or the added costs involved in paying the VAT man digitally.

These are all valid concerns.

However, if we’re to improve industry reputation, we need to weigh up the pros and cons of regulation and unite the entire aftermarket in a campaign for licensing which would ensure quality.

Surely a government-backed scheme or accreditation would be a great step forward.

Maybe I’ll start a petition?

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