Thousands of vacant jobs in UK automotive industry due to skills shortage

Up to 5,000 job vacancies in the UK automotive industry could occur due to a skills shortage affecting the sector, according to a new report published by the Automotive Council.

The report, which was developed by the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on behalf of the Automotive Industrial Partnership, found that despite the UK automotive industry workforce now being the most productive in Europe, its growth potential could be undermined by a lack of new talent.

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Skills minister Nick Boles, said: “Our automotive workforce is the most productive in Europe and this goes a long way to explaining why production hit record levels last year, but this report shows we cannot be complacent. 

“The sector needs to maintain its high productivity and international competitiveness and address the required demand of skilled workforce, engineers and designers. That’s why our apprenticeship reforms are putting employers in the driving seat, to deliver the high-tech, long-term skills our economy needs.

“The Automotive Industrial Partnership is a good example of government and industry working together, and I welcome this report.”

Of the top ten job types for which recruitment is most difficult, the majority are in engineering with the top two in-demand roles being design and production engineers. The knock-on effect, according to the report, is that companies are hiring temporary contractors and increasingly recruiting from abroad.

In addition to the new personnel needed, there are also many new training requirements due to the adoption of new automotive technologies in the industry.

According to the report, 71 different types of learning are required for more than 20,000 people working in the industry – 15 per cent of whom have an immediate need for new training. The most critical training requirements are in lean manufacturing (minimising waste), advanced problem solving and tool making. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive industry has already invested heavily in apprenticeships and training for existing staff to grow and develop a new generation of skilled workers. 

“However, even more support is needed. The struggle to fill vacancies is holding back growth and opportunities for business, and it is essential that both government and industry work together quickly to identify ways to plug this gap. Future schemes must focus on quality not just quantity and more support is needed to promote STEM subjects in schools.” 

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