Within the motor trade, undertaking temporary or freelance work is met with scepticism. In a bid to challenge these views, PMM checked in with Pete Owens, a temporary technician and MOT Tester with Autotech Recruit, to see what being a freelancer is really like.
Freelancing, originally the mainstay of marketing, IT and accounting executives, is slowly creeping across all industries, and by 2020, the expectation is that almost half of the entire working population will be self-employed.
‘Temp teching’ is rapidly growing within the automotive industry, particularly as garages across the country are quickly realising that they could face a large financial hit if they have an un-manned MOT ramp. As a result, they are willing to take on temporary, highly skilled, on-tap workers, which removes their commitment to costly overheads.
Pete took the freelance route three years ago in a bid to increase his earning potential and achieve a better work-life balance. “I was initially daunted by the prospect,” Pete commented. “However, after becoming disillusioned as a permanent worker, I wanted to escape the garage politics and take my career in a new direction, and I haven’t looked back. I’m always in work, and I’m rarely in the same place twice.”
Monday to Wednesday
I started the week off with Volvo in Gatwick, where I was positioned for three days, covering for a Master Technician who was on holiday. As I was three hours from home, I stayed in my converted campervan. There are plenty of work opportunities closer to home, but I enjoy the variety of working in different areas of the country. The bosses allowed me to stay on site in my van, so I hit the local gym early in the morning.
During my time with Volvo, I carried out used car checks, MOTs and services, and as it was very busy, I managed to get some overtime too. I was unable to carry out any diagnostic work due to insurance reasons, but working through Autotech means that when I turn up at the job, the management is fully aware of what I can and can’t complete for them, which makes life so much easier; I am ready to hit the ground running!
After travelling home, I had a day off. That is the beauty of being a freelancer – I have a better work-life balance and, as my earning potential is so much higher, I have more opportunity to treat and spend time with my loved ones.
I was meant to be heading back to Volvo, but Autotech sent me up to Volkswagen in Bristol instead. There’s never a dull day! I’ve worked there before and I get on well with the lads in the workshop, so when I arrived, they said they were happy to have me back, which was nice to hear. I have worked in many garages over the three years since becoming a freelancer. There are some places where I am glad I don’t have to get involved in the politics, but on the whole, I am made to feel very welcome and quickly become part of the team. I have kept in touch with many technicians I have met, and I sometimes stay with them when I am back in the area.
I carried out used car checks while at VW. Vehicles are changing so much today that it’s important that I keep up to date with everything. I didn’t get much training in my permanent job, so I don’t feel that I am missing anything from this perspective. I take the annual MOT assessment myself and follow the online training. Everything is available on the internet today and if I need any help, I know I can simply ask Autotech’s training division. Autotech has also launched a manufacturer-led training programme to cover technician shortfalls in major dealerships like Volvo, which I am keen to get involved with.
Technicians, under Autotech’s contractor network, are sent to train in the manufacturers’ training centres before covering temporary positions which come up across any of their UK workshops.
Saturday and Sunday
I covered an empty MOT bay at Kwik Fit in Western-Super-Mare and carried out a lot of MOTs. It was a long but fulfilling week, and I felt that I deserved a rest day, so I spent Sunday on the beach, walking the dog. For anyone looking to take the freelance route, I would encourage them to do it. I certainly haven’t looked back!