‘UK to run out of EV mechanics by 2030’

Britain will run out of technicians to service and repair the growing number of electric vehicles (EVs) on its roads by the end of the decade, a think-tank has warned in a new report.

The Social Market Foundation, a cross-party think-tank, is warning of a skills shortfall among mechanics trained to service and repair EVs. Shortages of qualified technicians risks driving up servicing costs and potentially leaving some drivers unable to have their cars maintained properly.

While the coming shortages could undermine work to decarbonise British transport, the SMF said the deficit also creates an opportunity for the creation of more skilled jobs, underlining the potential benefits of the Net Zero agenda.

The number of EVs on UK roads recently passed one million units. However, the number of skilled technicians who can service such cars is not keeping pace with the growth in EVs, the SMF analysis shows. The SMF report titled A Vehicle for Change highlights industry estimates that by 2027 there will not be enough qualified mechanics to maintain all of Britain’s EVs.  By 2030, the country could face a shortfall of 25,000 qualified technicians.

The SMF is calling for government to step up work to prepare the British workforce for Net Zero, supporting efforts to recruit and train more workers with the skills needed to maintain and repair EVs. The skills are significantly different to those required to maintain internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

Many ICE mechanics receive informal on-the-job training, but the SMF warned that since EV maintenance involves working with high-voltage electricity, that approach could be inappropriate and even dangerous.

“Formalised, professional and accredited training routes to prepare technicians for EV repair and maintenance are needed,” the report said. Reforms should allow more of the money paid by larger employers for the Apprenticeship Levy to be used to fund that training, the SMF said.

The report is based on interviews with mechanics and technicians and industry experts. It highlights concerns that the skills gap could raise the cost of repairs or reduce the quality of repairs, which would decrease consumers’ willingness to make the switch to EVs.

The SMF highlighted the limited attention paid to vehicle technicians’ skills in government plans to decarbonise transport. Neither the Department for Education or the Department for Transport have examined how growing EV uptake will impact vehicle technicians or developed policies to support workforce growth.

A key challenge identified in the SMF research is attracting new entrants to the sector because of what industry leaders describe as an “image problem” around vehicle maintenance and repair work.  Perceptions of that work as dirty, hard and male-dominated deter some would-be recruits from pursuing a career as a mechanic, the SMF found.

Amy Norman, senior researcher at SMF, said: “Electric vehicles are the future of cheaper, greener motoring, but servicing and maintaining them requires new skills and training. Britain is in real danger of running short of the skilled mechanics and technicians needed to keep EVs on the roads.

“The transition to EVs is a great example of the opportunities that come from the shift to a low-carbon economy – with the right policies in place, the transition in driving can unlock thousands of high-skill blue-collar jobs for current and future generations.”