Last updated: 23.03.16

Automotive skills shortage to overshadow industry growth?

A significant skills shortage in the automotive sector has seen more than 5,000 jobs left vacant, according to a new report published by the Automotive Council.

The report surveyed automotive partnerships in Britain and found that just under a fifth of unfilled vacancies were said to be “critical”. It added that failure to find the right candidate for these particular positions was having a large impact on company operations.

Companies stated that they were struggling to fill a wide variety of engineering roles, with design and production engineer positions being especially difficult to attract the right candidates for.

This skills shortage has led to organisations hiring from abroad and using temporary contractors in order to plug the gap.

The report, which was developed by SMMT Industry Forum, noted that 2015 was the best year in a decade for vehicle production. Furthermore, production is expected to hit an all-time high by 2020.

This success could be undermined, however, by the lack of skilled engineers ready to fill newly-created roles. This issue is ongoing, despite concerted efforts by companies to encourage apprenticeships and increase training initiatives.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, commented that while the automotive industry has already invested heavily in apprenticeships and training in an attempt to grow a skilled new generation of staff, 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,” he said.

“Future schemes must focus on quality not just quantity - and more support is needed to promote STEM subjects in schools.”

The report underlined that it is not just new employees these organisations are in need of. Indeed, there are also numerous new training requirements springing up as technology within the industry advances.

In fact, according to the research, 71 different types of learning are needed for over 20,000 individuals who work in the automotive sector. Worryingly, fifteen per cent of these people have an immediate requirement for this new training, with advanced problem solving, tool making and lean manufacturing among the most critical training requirements currently.

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