28 Feb 2024

EV-qualified workforce levels “should ring alarm bells” – IMI

Just 6.5% of the automotive sector workforce was EV-qualified at the end of 2020 according to analysis by the IMI, despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles.

While the figure was 1.5% up on previous estimates, with EV sales representing 23% of the new car market in May alone IMI CEO Steve Nash said the growing shortfall could hinder consumer confidence in more mainstream adoption of EVs: “There is no question that government, industry and consumers are all switching on to the idea of electric motoring. The growing representation of BEV, PHEV and HEV in overall new car sales is clear demonstration of that. Manufacturers and their franchise networks are certainly leading the way in giving customers more support and information as well as upskilling their workforces.

“However, the fact that our analysis shows such a big deficit in the EV skilled workforce should ring alarm bells for government, with its big ambitions for 2030. The recent House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report into the transition to zero emission vehicles highlighted the need to train and retrain the workforce required to service the new car fleet. But highlighting the need and actually committing to investment in the upskilling are two very different things. The current skills gap right across the UK economy, exacerbated by a combination of COVID-19 and Brexit is adding a further dimension to the challenge.”

The IMI TechSafe standards, endorsed by OLEV at the end of 2019, mean that EV drivers can access the IMI Professional Register to check the competencies of technicians at their local garage. However, As Steve observed, the sector is still some distance away from fielding a critical mass of technicians: “The lack of thought given to the training needs of the swathe of businesses and individuals in the automotive ecosystem – from the distribution chain of car dealers to service & repair and even accident recovery – could severely hamper the government’s ambitions. If the new parc of electric vehicles can’t be serviced and repaired safely, consumer confidence could be severely undermined.”

He added: “The ramp-up plan for all those who are likely to work on electric vehicles – from service and repair technicians to those working in the roadside recovery and blue light sectors – now must be addressed as a matter of urgency. That means some of that £12bn investment promised by the Prime Minister needs to be put towards skills training.”