The aftermarket skills shortage

The aftermarket skills shortage

As is well known, the aftermarket is facing severe skills shortages. Dedicated automotive recruiter Ingenia Recruitment has teamed up with the IMI and the NBRA to petition Government to step in and make vital changes to ensure the industry can train and retain the staff it needs.

The independent aftermarket is facing critical skills shortages which it can’t cope with for much longer. One proposed solution would be to recruit suitably skilled and qualified technicians from outside of the UK. A major hurdle to this, it turns out, is that the industry is not on the UK Government Shortage Occupations List. According to Ingenia Recruitment, this needs to be urgently addressed.

The recruitment firm is working alongside the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) and the NBRA (The National Body Repair Association) in order to help make a change to the ongoing skills shortage crisis. The organisations have created a government petition in order to help alleviate this crisis, by allowing the industry to recruit skilled and qualified foreign labour.

Steve Shaw, Director of Ingenia Recruitment, said: “The vast majority of workshops and bodyshops are, or have, experienced major difficulties when recruiting and retaining staff. This leads to lost income, increased staff costs, increased labour costs to customers, more transient staff, less competent staff being employed in the hope that they work out, and dissatisfied customers.”

Motorists are experiencing higher costs for repair, increased lead times, not always having suitably trained/experienced staff repairing their cars and the risk of driving unsafe vehicles.

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, said: “The non-manufacturing side of automotive, which includes the sales & distribution as well as the service and repair networks, employs over 600,000 people in the UK, but is facing unprecedented skills shortages. Currently the sector has over 23,000 vacancies, which equate to 4% of the workforce. And many of those vacancies are in the technical roles such as light vehicle technicians, HGV technicians and body and paint technicians. These are skilled roles which require extensive training; typically at least three years to become qualified at the minimum level.

Apprentices have long been the lifeblood of the automotive sector. But the inevitable reductions in the recruitment and training of apprentices resulting from the pandemic have created a shortage of young talent which will take some years to catch up from, despite the fact that employers are recruiting new trainees at record rates. So other solutions must be found and one such solution is for the key automotive technical roles previously mentioned to be added to the UK Government’s Shortage Occupation List, facilitating easier recruitment of talent from abroad. That is why the Institute of the Motor Industry is supporting this petition.”

Due to the lack of staff, some bodyshops are declining ‘non-viable’ jobs from insurance companies, as it is taking longer to get damaged vehicles back on the road.

Also, pressure to get jobs through the workshop to meet customer demand, on fewer staff, could lead to costly mistakes.

Ingenia Recruitment argues that without getting motor industry technicians, painters, panel beaters and MET technicians onto the UK Government Shortage Occupations List, it will be extremely difficult to attract and recruit qualified and skilled staff. The petition needs at least 10,000 signatures in order for government to respond. However, 100,000 signatures allows the subject to be considered for debate in parliament.

PMM editor Kieran Nee will be finding out more about the petition and the challenges recruitment shortages are posing to the aftermarket when he speaks to Ingenia Recruitment’s Steve Shaw on the PMM Podcast. To listen to the latest episode, click here.

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