Nearly half (49%) of UK automotive companies are concerned about skills shortages in key roles from research and design to engineering and manufacturing, according to the latest survey by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The results come as a new automotive Career Guide is launched to attract top talent to help drive the transition to zero emission vehicles.1
The SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, in partnership with the City of London Livery Company, the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, has launched the guide to mark the UK’s first Green Careers Week (7th – 12th November). The guide provides a key resource for school leavers, graduates and career changers on the vast range of new opportunities in the development, production and maintenance of exciting technologies, from hydrogen trucks and electric buses, to high-performance sports cars, self-driving vehicles, zero emission components, advanced software solutions and technical roles in the £50 billion aftermarket sector.
With some 14,000 new roles either delivered or being created by UK investment in zero emission vehicle and battery production since 2011,2 the automotive industry is searching for talented, creative employees to join its ranks as it helps to drive Britain’s move to a net zero economy. The new guide offers insight into a wide range of automotive sectors and employers, with advice on how to find the ideal job or apprenticeship, interview techniques and scholarship and bursary opportunities, for people from all backgrounds, experience, gender, ethnicity, qualification and ability.
• SMMT Charitable Trust Fund and partners launch Career Guide to mark Green Careers Week and showcase the breadth of new opportunities for school leavers to lead the mobility revolution • 14,000 skilled roles already delivered or being created following billions of pounds of industry investment in zero emission cars, vans, trucks and buses, with thousands more to come • Half of automotive businesses concerned they cannot recruit staff, particularly in engineering, design and R&D
The launch follows SMMT’s latest member survey, which found that nearly eight in 10 (77%) companies were struggling to recruit staff in engineering, design and research and development roles, while more than seven in 10 (73%) are experiencing recruitment challenges in operations and manufacturing roles.
The UK automotive industry has a strong reputation for the provision of inspiring and rewarding careers, with salaries some 14% higher than the average, in every part of the UK.3 The revolution in zero emission and self-driving vehicles is opening up even more opportunities beyond the roles traditionally associated with the sector, as the workforce adapts to new, cutting-edge technology and software.
With the number of automotive apprenticeship starts growing by 67% last year – some 16% above pandemic-levels – the industry has never been more open and accessible to career seekers, with roles ranging from electric vehicle design and fuel cell technology research to roles in the development and testing of self-driving vehicle technology, high-tech repair and maintenance.4
The UK has one of the most advanced and diverse automotive sectors in the world, renowned for iconic brands, engineering excellence and a highly skilled and productive workforce. The industry has a clear plan to meet the UK’s ambitious net zero targets, investing more than £11 billion in the transition since 2011.5 Future growth will depend on the recruitment and training of skilled workers to carry out critical jobs in the coming years.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Britain’s world leading automotive sector is delivering the vehicles of the future, today, and the skills and commitment of a new generation of diverse and talented workers will secure its success. There has never been a more exciting time to work in the industry, with some of Britain’s best paid, rewarding and long-lasting careers, and a breadth of opportunities at the vanguard of the Net Zero and AI revolution. SMMT’s new Career Guide offers a valuable resource, providing advice on how to join the sector in roles as diverse as design, data analytics, engineering and marketing, leading the charge towards a zero emission future.”
1. Visit the Career Guide here: https://www.smmt.co.uk/industry-topics/uk-automotive/automotive-industry-career-guide/
2. SMMT, Plugging the Gap, March 2022, page 6
3. Institute of the Motor Industry, Automotive vacancy rates start to fall, following record high levels
4. SMMT, 2022 UK Automotive Sustainability Report, page 11
5. SMMT, Plugging the Gap, March 2022, page 6
Hazel Teasdale, 24, Graduate Environmental Engineer – Bentley Motors
• Hazel is a Graduate Environmental Engineer at Bentley Motors, Crewe, having started Bentley’s graduate scheme in 2021. • Her role includes water, energy and waste management, biodiversity improvements and environmental sustainability planning at the Crewe site. • “It may seem from an outsider’s perspective that I do not 'fit in' to this environment, however that is just not the case and times have changed.”
Nathan Frost, Technician – Halfords Autocentres
• Nathan is a technician at Halfords Autocentres, currently taking part in the company’s T4 graduate scheme to upskill employees to work with electric vehicles. • His first block of training has included Electric Vehicle, Hybrid diagnosis and repair level four, which will help to maintain the growing number of EVs on UK roads. • “I’ve learnt a lot from the course and took away so much knowledge about the world of electric and hybrid vehicles.”
Rebecca Wood, Chassis Design Engineer – Leyland Trucks
• Rebecca’s role as a Chassis Design Engineer at Leyland Trucks includes the development of design solutions for the manufacturer’s HGVs, including electric vehicles. • She won the Made in the North West Apprentice of the Year 2021, a “trailblazer” as the first female Prototype Apprentice winner. • “The industry landscape is changing and there are more and more women in roles that were traditionally male, so believe in yourself and be proud. Celebrate every single achievement.”
Parris Small, Engineering Apprentice – Jaguar Land Rover
• Parris is in the final year of her engineering apprenticeship, currently working in JLR’s electric vehicle charging section. • She recently won the Apprentice Award at the Midlands Women in Tech Awards, and is an ambassador for NotGoingToUni and STEM Learning UK. • “As a woman in STEM, I am proud to say I help develop vehicles that are at the forefront of the industry.”
About SMMT and the UK automotive industry
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting the industry to government, stakeholders and the media. The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy and integral to supporting the delivery of the agendas for levelling up, net zero, advancing global Britain, and the plan for growth. Automotive-related manufacturing contributes £67 billion turnover and £14 billion value added to the UK economy, and typically invest around £3 billion each year in R&D. With more than 182,000 people employed in manufacturing and some 780,000 in total across the wider automotive industry, we account for 10% of total UK goods exports with more than 150 countries importing UK produced vehicles, generating £77 billion of trade. More than 25 manufacturers build over 70 models of vehicles in the UK, plus an array of specialist small volume manufacturers, supported by some 5,000 supply chain businesses and some of the world's most skilled engineers. Many of these jobs are outside London and the Southeast, with wages that are around 14% higher than the UK average. The automotive sector also supports jobs in other key sectors – including advertising, finance and logistics. More detail on UK automotive available in SMMT's Motor Industry Facts publication at www.smmt.co.uk/reports/smmt-motor-industry-facts/