The IMI is spearheading a recruitment campaign as it anticipates a major skills crisis in the sector.
Vacancy figures already stand at 11,000. Nearly half of the these vacancies are for highly skilled technicians.
According to Learning and Skills Council (LSC) research, the automotive retail sector will need to replace 120,000 people in all disciplines over the next decade.
An industry-wide campaign beginning this year will be aimed at pupils from year nine (ages 13-14), parents, teachers, careers advisers, colleges and training providers. IMI has also reduced apprenticeship administration charges by 40% to encourage participation.
The IMI campaign coincides with Government calls for 500,000 new apprenticeship places by 2020 across all industries.
Simon Bailes Peugeot has had apprentices since 1984. One of its apprentices, Simon Noble, recently won bronze in autobody repair representing Britain in the World Skills Olympics.
David Rathmell, Simon Bailes Peugeot accident repair centre manager, said: “Apprentices get a set of skills in a specialist discipline, high quality training and an opportunity to follow up their aspirations.
“Dealerships benefit from training apprentices to suit themselves. The outcome is skilled technicians in areas we require.”
However, there is a down side. “We end up training people for other garages which approach them. It’s like dangling a carrot in front of them,” he says.