5,000 automotive jobs vacant in the UK due to skills shortage

Jess Shanahan
- Leadership - Feb 10, 2016

The UK automotive industry is now the most productive in Europe but this could be undermined by a skills shortage.

Of the top 10 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.

The renaissance of the UK automotive industry since the recession has brought significant success to the sector and helped to sustain just under 800,000 jobs across Britain. 2015 was the best year in a decade for car production with 1.59 million vehicles built, and volumes are forecast to reach an all-time record two million by 2020. The UK also achieved notable success in productivity levels, which have increased 40% since 2010 to make UK labour productivity the highest in Europe.

This all comes from a report commissioned by the SMMT on behalf of the Automotive Industrial Partnership that looks at recruitment in the automotive industry.

Jo Lopes, Chair of the Automotive Industrial Partnership and Head of Technical Excellence, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “These are very significant findings which present a valuable basis for government and industry to jointly tackle this issue head-on and ensure that the growth potential of the industry in the coming years is fulfilled. The Automotive Industrial Partnership has already made some important steps since its inception – including the introduction of a range of training programmes – and it will have a crucial role to play in addressing the skills challenge.”

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.”

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.”

You can download the full report here.

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