The first nine months of 2022 saw over 11,500 technicians undertake training and qualifications required to obtain IMI TechSafe professional recognition.
This means that around 16% of technicians in the UK are now qualified to work on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), up from 11% at the end of 2021. However, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is concerned the pace of training for EV qualified technicians is slowing down.
While battery-electric vehicles took second place in the SMMT’s 2022 registration figures, they did so despite a slowdown in the last months of the year. Yet according to Zap-Map, there are still around 1.1 million plug-in vehicles on UK roads, including BEVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
EV qualified technicians are essential
With the UK government still on course to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel models from 2030, despite calls to do so sooner, it is inevitable that the increase in sales of EVs will rise, both on the new and used-car markets. The independent aftermarket needs to be ready for this increase, and garages need a roster of EV qualified technicians.
“As of Quarter 3 2022, there were 36,000 EV qualified technicians eligible for IMI TechSafe accreditation,” commented Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry. “The sector should be very proud of how it has responded to the call for EV upskilling. However, we are now in a dangerous place in terms of continued commitment to skills matched to EV adoption.
“The latest Auto Trader Insights data outlines a decline in demand for electric vehicles, probably caused by the cost-of-living crisis and doubts about the Government’s electrification ambitions. This has led to a dampening of forecasts, with EVs predicted to reach 50% of all new car sales by 2027 rather than 2026 as previously expected. But the last thing we need now is for the sector to believe it has more time to get the workforce properly skilled with EV qualified technicians.
“The reality is the automotive aftermarket already faces high employment replacement demand caused by an aging workforce, migration and occupation mobility. The uptake of automotive apprenticeships also has not caught up with pre-pandemic levels. There is, therefore, no time to waste in getting the sector properly skilled for electrified vehicles. It is also critical that those already qualified complete their CPD to ensure they remain competent to work on this new technology.”
Increasing numbers required
The IMI predicts that the number of IMI TechSafe qualified technicians required to work with electric vehicles by 2030 is 77,000, increasing to 89,000 by 2032. Aligned to Auto Trader Insight predictions, this suggests the skills gap, when there won’t be enough EV qualified technicians to service the EV parc, will appear in 2029.
Size of EV qualified technician gap
“The IMI would be deeply concerned if anyone believes the EV skills problem is not an immediate issue”, added Nash. “It is crucial the sector continues to train and skill its workforce at significant rates. But with current economic pressures there is concern that training budgets will be the first to be cut.
“Government support for training which, in turn, will help it achieve its decarbonisation goals, is vital. It is also important to note that for technicians to remain skilled and to maintain IMI TechSafe recognition there is a need for continued professional development (CPD) in order to keep up to date with new technology. This CPD requirement and the employment churn we have identified mean the ’pot’ of those qualified is never truly ever growing but requires continued ‘refilling’.”
Technicians who have met the IMI TechSafe standards – endorsed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – can showcase their credentials by joining the IMI’s industry-wide Professional Register. The Register lists individual members – and their place of work – who have been recognised for their achievements, experience, professionalism and commitment to a Professional Standard of behaviours, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Drivers of EVs can access the Register online for free, to find local qualified EV technicians and garages.