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School of Thought preparing to educate at UK Garage & Bodyshop Event

The UK Garage and Bodyshop Event will feature education initiative School of Thought, as statistics reveal that the automotive aftermarket industry is facing the imminent retirement of up to 40% of its workforce.

School of Thought is a collective that works with schools, colleges, and automotive employers to raise the profile of career opportunities in the sector.

The automotive aftermarket industry is facing a colossal, generational skills gap with 40% of the current workforce over the age of 50, and with apprenticeships dropping year-on-year, work needs to be urgently done with schools and colleges to promote the opportunities the sector has to offer, says School of Thought founder Dave Reece.

“The automotive aftermarket industry hasn’t been too proactive on graduate programmes and apprenticeships, something that is focused on more by blue chip and OE companies. The latest Department for Education statistics show that there were 1,575 apprenticeships completed in the first quarter of the academic year (September-December 2021), which is a drop in the ocean for the size of our industry,” Reece said.

Working with schools and colleges to inspire students and signpost career opportunities has never been more important. Against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, vehicle-based apprenticeships dropped 95% in 2020 and a further 63% in 2021. 

Dave Reece added: “We’ve collectively done a bad job of marketing our industry for years, so it’s time to engage with education, go into schools, colleges and universities and promote the career opportunities the industry has. IMI statistics show there’s over 200 different roles in automotive to choose from – so it’s certainly no longer a case of fix cars or sell cars, there’s so many facets to choose from.”

School of Thought is an initiative that was created to raise the profile of the automotive industry as a worthwhile career choice among young people. The collective’s ambassador network works with employers and young people to signpost routes into the industry and exciting learning opportunities including apprenticeships ultimately leading to full-time roles in the automotive sector. The initiative is inviting more to join its ambassador group to help spread the message of the career options available in the automotive aftermarket. 

The UK Garage and Bodyshop Event provides a great opportunity to showcase the work we’ve been doing with education. We’ve been making noise throughout the last two years and announcing how we’ve been helping to get new talent into the industry. We have 143 volunteer ambassadors covering all aspects of the industry, with 40% deployed in schools as they return to normality post-Covid. Compared with the healthcare sector that has 10,000 ambassadors, we’re a bit behind the curve, so anyone that shares our enthusiasm and wants to help the industry’s future is more than welcome to come and see us to learn more,” Reece said.

The first in-person industry exhibition of its kind since 2019 is taking place at Birmingham’s NEC from June 8-9, and as well as featuring 67 live skills workshops and seminars, the event will give technicians an opportunity to refresh their skills and technical understanding with the latest industry trends and insights.

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