News, views & analysis blogs by: Phil Lunn


Phil Lunn :
Motor trade must train 120,000 skilled workers over next decade


Phil Lunn :
The Institute of the Motor Industry aims to double apprenticeship numbers in the sector

A 100% increase in the number of apprentices joining the retail motor industry over the next five years is the pledge made today by The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), its Sector Skills Council and professional association, to avert a major skills crisis in the sector.

According to the Learning and Skills Council’s “Working Futures” research, the automotive retail sector will have a total ‘replacement requirement’ of up to 120,000 people in all disciplines across the industry over the next decade. Motor retail businesses in England already have more than 11,000 vacancies, of which nearly half are for highly skilled technicians, prompting a number of employers to recruit from countries such as Poland, Australia and New Zealand.

Spearheading an industry-wide campaign in 2008 aimed at school pupils from Year 9, parents, teachers, careers advisors, colleges and training providers, as well as engaging employers across the sector, the IMI wants 40,000 ‘home grown’ apprentices in the automotive sector by 2013. This will ensure that the workforce remains sufficiently qualified to handle future vehicle technology, which in many cases is already as complex as that found in state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. Advanced systems involving fibre optics, controlled area networks (CAN) and fuel cell technology, for example, is demanding proficiency in highly sophisticated electronics and diagnostics.

As well as a commitment to boost numbers, the IMI has announced that it has reduced its apprenticeship administration charges by 40% with immediate effect. The registration fee of £20 has been abolished, leaving a single fee of £30 per person, payable upon completion of the apprenticeship.

Sarah Sillars, Chief Executive, Institute of the Motor Industry, said:

“With rapid vehicle evolution, a shifting retail landscape and intense scrutiny from consumer groups, a robust and respected retail motor sector of the future means that we need to attract and retain highly capable young people who have got what it takes to make a career in what is a highly credible professional vocation.”

The IMI’s pledge coincides with the Government’s announcement to increase apprenticeships across all industry sectors from 250,000 today to more than 400,000 by 2010/11 with over £1billion in additional funding. Achieving these figures in this timescale would deliver the challenges set by Lord Leitch in his Review of Skills almost 10 years early. For the first time, funding will be targeted specifically at expanding apprenticeships for adults aged over 25.

Supporting the IMI’s ambition to significantly boost apprentice numbers, David Lammy, Minister for Skills, commented:

"Such a rapidly evolving sector as automotive retail demands a highly skilled workforce and I am delighted that the IMI´s plans to bring more young people into the motor industry will complement the Government´s pledge to increase apprenticeships across all industries."

Challenging outdated public perceptions of the retail motor industry will be an additional objective of the IMI’s campaign, by stressing the progress being made by the industry to promote and recognise competence and ethical behaviour in the motor trade. This includes the national Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) scheme, launched in 2005, which now has 7,000 accredited technicians in the UK.

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