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Automotive industry needs to do more to attract young talent

Professor Richard Parry-Jones, industry co-chair of the Automotive Council is urging the industry to do more to attract young people. The Automotive Council, a joint industry-Government council, was set up to help the industry to continue to grow.

By Professor Richard Parry-Jones

2013 was a great year for the UK’s automotive industry. While many European markets suffered from continuing economic woes the UK bucked this trend. Over 10,000 jobs were created and more than £2.5 billion of new investment announced. The UK also saw manufacturing return to pre-recession levels. Over 1.6 million vehicles and 2.5 million engines rolled off the production lines, assembled by the most productive workers in Europe.

We should not become complacent; key challenges still need to be addressed and new opportunities realised.

Companies are struggling to find the skilled engineers and technicians required to sustain the sector’s growth. We need more young people to feel the same excitement that I did as a child at the prospects of a career in automotive.

To tackle this, the council has set out a ‘skills roadmap’ the interventions we need to make to improve the automotive skills pipeline. As a trailblazer sector for more rigorous and responsive apprenticeships, automotive employers have recently designed a new apprenticeship standard in Automotive Mechatronics Maintenance. It is also essential that we offer responsive vocational training going forward to help companies upskill and embrace new opportunities.

The growth of the UK supply chain has also not kept pace with the growth in UK vehicle and engine manufacturing, with an estimated £3 billion in annual UK supply chain business that remains to be won.

That is why last year we set up the Automotive Investment Organisation to help to attract further investments into the UK automotive sector, and in particular into the supply chain.

The UK is well known for its innovative technological history and its highly innovative design engineering and motor sport sectors. To remain at the forefront of the global race to develop more intelligent, lower carbon and highly efficient mobility solutions for the 21st century we must build on these research strengths and industrialise the supply chains of the future.

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