21 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

EV skills increase slowing?

The number of technicians getting IMI TechSafe accreditation is rising, but the rate of increase is waning the organisation has warned, at the same time that demand for EVs may be slowing.

Over 11,500 technicians achieved the qualification in the first nine months of 2022, meaning roughly 16% of technicians now hold it. This is up from 11% at the end of 2022. However, according to IMI CEO Steve Nash, this rate of increase is likely to slow as a result of falling training budgets: “As of Quarter 3 2022, there were 36,000 EV qualified technicians eligible for IMI TechSafe accreditation. The sector should be very proud of how it has responded to the call for EV upskilling. However, we are now in a dangerous place in terms of continued commitment to skills matched to EV adoption.

“The latest Auto Trader Insights data outlines a decline in demand for electric vehicles, probably caused by the cost-of-living crisis and doubts about the government’s electrification ambitions. This has led to a dampening of forecasts, with EVs predicted to reach 50% of all new car sales by 2027 rather than 2026 as previously expected. But the last thing we need now is for the sector to believe it has more time to get the workforce properly skilled.

“The reality is the automotive aftermarket already faces high employment replacement demand caused by an aging workforce, migration and occupation mobility. The uptake of automotive apprenticeships also has not caught up with pre-pandemic levels. There is, therefore, no time to waste in getting the sector properly skilled for electrified vehicles. It is also critical that those already qualified complete their CPD to ensure they remain competent to work on this new technology.”

The number of IMI TechSafe qualified technicians required to work with electric vehicles by 2030 is 77,000 according to the IMI, with that number needing to hit 89,000 by 2032. “Aligned to Auto Trader Insight predictions, said Steve, “this suggests the skills gap – when there won’t be enough technicians to service the electrified vehicle parc – will appear in 2029.

“The IMI would be deeply concerned if anyone believes the EV skills problem is not an immediate issue. It is crucial the sector continues to train and skill its workforce at significant rates. But with current economic pressures there is concern that training budgets will be the first to be cut.

He added: “Government support for training which, in turn, will help it achieve its decarbonisation goals, is vital. It is also important to note that for technicians to remain skilled and to maintain IMI TechSafe recognition there is a need for continued professional development (CPD) in order to keep up to date with new technology. This CPD requirement and the employment churn we have identified mean the ’pot’ of those qualified is never truly ever growing but requires continued ‘refilling’.”