Nearly half (49%) of UK automotive companies are concerned about skills shortages in key roles from research and design to engineering and manufacturing, according to the latest survey by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The results come as a new automotive Career Guide is launched to attract top talent to help drive the transition to zero emission vehicles.
The SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, in partnership with the City of London Livery Company, the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, has launched the guide to mark the UK’s first Green Careers Week (7-12 November). The guide provides a key resource for school leavers, graduates and career changers on the vast range of new opportunities in the development, production and maintenance of exciting technologies, from hydrogen trucks and electric buses, to high-performance sports cars, self-driving vehicles, zero emission components, advanced software solutions and technical roles in the £50bn aftermarket sector.
With some 14,000 new roles either delivered or being created by UK investment in zero emission vehicle and battery production since 2011, the automotive industry is searching for talented, creative employees to join its ranks as it helps to drive Britain’s move to a net zero economy. The new guide offers insight into a wide range of automotive sectors and employers, with advice on how to find the ideal job or apprenticeship, interview techniques and scholarship and bursary opportunities, for people from all backgrounds, experience, gender, ethnicity, qualification and ability.
The launch follows SMMT’s latest member survey, which found that nearly eight in 10 (77%) companies were struggling to recruit staff in engineering, design and research and development roles, while more than seven in 10 (73%) are experiencing recruitment challenges in operations and manufacturing roles.
The UK automotive industry has a strong reputation for the provision of inspiring and rewarding careers, with salaries some 14% higher than the average, in every part of the UK. The revolution in zero emission and self-driving vehicles is opening up even more opportunities beyond the roles traditionally associated with the sector, as the workforce adapts to new, cutting-edge technology and software.
With the number of automotive apprenticeship starts growing by 67% last year – some 16% above pandemic-levels – the industry has never been more open and accessible to career seekers, with roles ranging from electric vehicle design and fuel cell technology research to roles in the development and testing of self-driving vehicle technology, high-tech repair and maintenance.
The UK has one of the most advanced and diverse automotive sectors in the world, renowned for iconic brands, engineering excellence and a highly skilled and productive workforce. The industry has a clear plan to meet the UK’s ambitious net zero targets, investing more than £11bn in the transition since 2011. Future growth will depend on the recruitment and training of skilled workers to carry out critical jobs in the coming years.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Britain’s world leading automotive sector is delivering the vehicles of the future, today, and the skills and commitment of a new generation of diverse and talented workers will secure its success. There has never been a more exciting time to work in the industry, with some of Britain’s best paid, rewarding and long-lasting careers, and a breadth of opportunities at the vanguard of the Net Zero and AI revolution. SMMT’s new Career Guide offers a valuable resource, providing advice on how to join the sector in roles as diverse as design, data analytics, engineering and marketing, leading the charge towards a zero emission future.”
Case studies Hazel Teasdale, 24, Graduate Environmental Engineer – Bentley Motors Nathan Frost, Technician – Halfords Autocentres Rebecca Wood, Chassis Design Engineer – Leyland Trucks Parris Small, Engineering Apprentice – Jaguar Land Rover “As a woman in STEM, I am proud to say I help develop vehicles that are at the forefront of the industry.”
Hazel Teasdale, 24, Graduate Environmental Engineer – Bentley Motors
Nathan Frost, Technician – Halfords Autocentres
Rebecca Wood, Chassis Design Engineer – Leyland Trucks
Parris Small, Engineering Apprentice – Jaguar Land Rover
“As a woman in STEM, I am proud to say I help develop vehicles that are at the forefront of the industry.”
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