Support for the Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) as the de facto vehicle repair technician qualification continues to grow, with leading vehicle manufacturer BMW now embracing the scheme through their own training and assessment programme.

BMW have worked closely with Thatcham, Training 2000 and BASF to ensure implementation and continued delivery of their own ATA based bodyshop assessment programme for the BMW Approved Repair network, consequently ensuring that the development of BMW bodyshop technicians is now in line with the standards demanded by ATA.

BMW (UK) Ltd are the first vehicle manufacturer to offer Vehicle Body Repair ATA assessments to their Approved Bodyshop network and therefore to embrace ATA into their own Approved Bodyshop standards. Using Thatcham's state of the art training centre in Berkshire to deliver the paint and MET elements of the programme and Training 2000's excellent facilities in Blackburn to run the panel element, the training instructors and assessors delivering the courses have also worked closely with BMW partners, particularly BASF on the BMW Colorsystem side, to ensure a first class and highly relevant development and accreditation programme.

Mark Crandon, Technical Training Manager at BMW said, "The initial response to the programme has been excellent with 123 BMW technicians having already successfully gained their ATA and we are already taking requests to offer the senior level qualification – something which we are hoping to pilot during 2008. From a wider perspective, we are delighted with the new programme, which has been in place since February, and is enabling our repair network to meet the PAS 125 standards set out in the new Vehicle Body Repair Kitemark, whilst reducing overall assessment costs for separate discipline certification."

Ben Cardy, Quality and Environmental Systems Manager at Thatcham, said, "Facilitating the BMW MET and Paint training programmes and subsequent ATA assessments has been an excellent initiative. The participation of Vehicle Manufacturers in the Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme is key to its long term success, and having BMW as a world leader and now front runner in training and ATA assessment, offers significant support and credibility to the scheme"

Michael Hunt, Operations Director at Training 2000 said, ‘'It has been a pleasure to assist BMW with their ATA assessment programme and respond to the demanding timescales we both set out to achieve. Training 2000's delivery of these assessments for BMW in our award winning facilities clearly demonstrates our ability and commitment to respond to the needs of industry."