The UK's Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), has welcomed the recent decision allowing plans for an Automotive Skills Council to proceed to the development phase.

RMI chief executive Matthew Carrington said: "This decision - announced by the government's appointed regulatory body, the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) - has given the "green light" for employers to move towards establishing a specific Automotive Skills Council. Its brief is broad and timely: to meet the skills, workforce development and business needs of the retail motor industry.

"We know that the industry currently faces a recruitment crisis, so it is crucial that we continue to work towards maintaining our substantial influence in the economy of this country. We are its largest retail sector and we annually raise £30 billion in tax revenue. Through the development of the Automotive Skills Council we intend, in partnership with government, to address vital issues of training and recruitment, as it is essential that we attract new blood into the industry and further develop the skills of existing employees.

The ASC will replace the previous industry National Training Organisation (NTO), the Motor Industry Training Council (MITC). The decision of the Retail Forum - comprising motor manufacturers and retailers - to combine its management standards programme with MITC's training expertise, has amply outlined the determination of industry employers to push for an Automotive Sector Skills Council, Carrington said.

"It is heartening that so many employers within the industry have joined forces to hone our message: car manufacturers, dealers, motoring organisations and independent garages have all assisted with preparing the bid, and will lend their considerable weight to the task in hand," Carrington added.