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ITIA lays out challenges and opportunities for 2022

As we approach the end of the year, spoke with Sue O’Neill, chief executive officer of the Irish Tyre Industry Association (ITIA) on the priorities for the association in 2022. In the following round-up she sets out the Association’s plans.

ITIA NEC members held their end of year review recently to discuss the priorities for the Association for 2022. It is no surprise that number one on the list is the challenges for recruitment in the sector.

Right across the membership, businesses are struggling to find and indeed retain technicians. Changes have been introduced to the employment permit system to allow a greater number of workers from outside the European Economic Area work here in sectors such as HGV drivers, construction, and hospitality.

The ITIA is looking for this to be extended to the tyre trade, but this is a slow process, and the challenge of housing costs remains for any workers coming from abroad, making it an unattractive proposition.

O’Neill commented: “Permit policy is only one part of the solution, the bigger picture needs to be addressed, as to how we can attract domestic workers into the industry and how we can encourage those who are unemployed and school leavers to train as technicians.

“To achieve this, it will be important for the industry to commit to training and developing career paths for employees and for a quality standard for tyre technicians to be recognised.

“With the help of members, ITIA will focus on this for 2022 and will be discussing plans for this at its next Conference and AGM in February next.”

L-R Sam Waide, CEO Road Safety Authority, Sue O’Neill, CEO ITIA, Chief Superintendent Mick Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau.

The ITIA has been working over the last two years in developing its Tyre Technician training programme in collaboration with the Athlone Training Centre and to date there have been a number of technicians through the programme.

The programme will run again in February 2022 and this session will be run over one week. As a commitment to playing its part in supporting its members, the ITIA is offering a free place to any member who is recruiting or considering taking on a new employee.

“Our website will also feature a new section where we can post job vacancies you have, and we will endeavour to match trainees with any suitable employers. Our REACT ( Roadside Emergency Action Concerning Technicians) will also be delivered,” O’Neill said.

Next year will see other planned initiatives to support members. During the year the online member directory was redeveloped to provide a better search facility for customers, and this will be supported with social media activity to ensure visibility for members, particularly when consumers are looking for breakdown services.

The website will be further redeveloped during the year to create resource areas providing information to consumers in all areas of tyre safety, maintenance, and new labelling legislation.

O’Neill continued: “Our very successful collaboration with An Garda Siochána and the Road safety Authority will be planned again for next year during Road Safety Week along with other consumer campaigns to promote the awareness of tyre safety, tyre pressure and highest standards in tyre repair. There will also be targeted campaigns throughout the year which will promote our members.

“Another of our collaborations with the Small Firms Association has provided members with really valuable information and advice on many wider business issues such as employment law, Covid-19 guidelines, business regulation and economic trends.

“We will continue also to work with the SFA to have the views of our sector represented with government.”

Health and Safety regulation is a key component for members, and the ITIA is constantly reviewing its sample policy that is available to members to ensure that new pieces of legislation are included.

“2022 will again see a review and we will be in touch with members to advise. We also work closely with Travers Insurance to ensure that our policy is in line with insurance requirements,” O’Neill said.

“The coming year will be a busy one and hopefully a prosperous one for all our members. We will look forward to getting together in person at our Conference and AGM and we will plan some regional meetings for our NEC so members can come along to input ideas or identify challenges they are facing.”

She added: “We are delighted that we welcomed a number of new members in 2021 and we look forward to connecting with more businesses in the coming year.

“On behalf of the ITIA I would like to wish all our members a very happy Christmas and I look forward to meeting you in the New Year. Keep distant, keep safe and keep well.”