The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is calling on the UK government to recognise the need for new entrants into the independent automotive sector, as the market faces a continuing skills shortage.
As vehicle technology continues to become more complex, the automotive market is facing competition for the attention of a younger generation who, when considering software and programming careers, are enticed by the opportunities in the gaming and computing industries.
This is leading to a skills shortage, where there are not enough people coming into the independent garage sector with the knowledge or ability to learn about the latest vehicle technologies, such as ADAS, and electric vehicles.
Need to tackle skills shortage
In advance of the Spring Budget, the IGA has written to the Chancellor, emphasising the need for a greater number of people to consider the independent sector for their career plans, in a hope to end the skills shortage.
“It is widely recognised that there is a shortfall of suitably skilled professionals within the automotive sector, and we have urged the Chancellor to take appropriate action to halt the decline,” Stuart James, Chief Executive of the IGA, stated. “This is a great opportunity for the government to provide help and to take steps to fill the skills gap in the automotive sector.”
Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017, apprenticeship numbers have plummeted, made worse by chronic underfunding of apprenticeship training. This change to the apprentice levy has resulted in the automotive industry experiencing a 39% decrease in new Level 2 & 3 Light Vehicle apprenticeship registrations, creating the skills shortage.
James continued: “It is paramount that the government recognises the urgency of our message and bring about measures to apprenticeship funding to ensure the future of our industry.”
Utilising unused funding
A shortage of qualified technicians may result in garage closures, which would heavily impact consumer choice and limit competition, adversely affecting the mobility of the UK working population. Investing in training and apprenticeships strengthens the industry and the UK at large.
The IGA has put forward an innovative solution to provide financial incentives for individuals aged 19 and above who are currently not employed, in education, or undergoing training. This proposal suggests utilising unused Levy funds to enhance trainee earnings, attracting fresh talent to the automotive sector.
The potential outcome is a reduction in the government’s benefits expenditure while offering crucial support to Independent Garages facing challenges in recruiting staff across the UK.