Investment critical for 2018

A leading automotive recruitment company has called for greater investment in training to bridge the skills gap, warning that 2018 could be a critical year for the industry.

Autotech Recruit says demand for skilled technicians is increasing, but the pool of fully proficient candidates is decreasing.

MD Gavin White said, ‘In 2016 pockets of the country were feeling the pinch with the skills shortage. However, in 2017, garages across the whole of the UK felt the strain. Unless financial provisions are made for training soon, this deficit in skills will deepen.’

He added, ‘Garage owners have realised the financial implications of having an un-manned MOT station and are taking on temporary, highly skilled, technicians to avoid any losses. With Brexit likely to impact the stream of migrant workers the industry has relied upon in previous years, motor industry bosses should be doing more to safeguard their current workforce and offer training provisions to retain their current workforce.’

Over 70% of technicians seeking employment through Autotech Recruit cite lack of progression as the overriding factor for them wanting to move on. Surprisingly, money is actually lower down on the list. This reinforces the essential need for motor industry bosses to build in a culture for life-long learning, in order to equip technicians with the necessary skills required to deal with the rapidly changing industry.

For instance, over the coming years there will be an increase in the number of electric vehicles entering the market. But, if vehicle technicians are not adequately trained, it will only be a question of time before somebody, without the right knowledge, puts a spanner in a high voltage area.

While retaining current workforce is undoubtedly essential, so too is the need to develop and nurture young, home-grown talent. Over the years apprenticeships have been a route to harness the flexible, highly skilled and productive workforce for the future. However, since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy last year, the number of apprentices entering schemes across all UK industries has dropped by almost 57%.

Gavin added, ‘It is vital that training becomes an integral part for automotive workers today, to ensure the industry has flexible, highly skilled and productive workforce. But, getting the education framework right is essential to attract a younger generation and guarantee the UK automotive economy thrives.’