By 2020, skill sets will need to be more orientated towards customer service, moving away from technicians and cars sold.
Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, said: “The size of the industry is fairly static, and will employ about 600,000 staff – about the same as now – but there will be fewer technicians and more people in customer service and sales.
That’s the real emphasis change.
“Technological developments will mean the technical side of things will start to diminish.”
Keith Lovegreen, Hodgson Toyota Metro Centre sales manager, said: “I think things will remain similar, but will be much more orientated towards the people rather than the product.
“Take for example the Lexus proposition.
Its customers see Lexus as number one and that’s because of customer satisfaction.
“Everyone has to get up to speed with this sentiment.
“It is fundamental to business that customers feel like they are in their own front room,” he added.
In the bodyshop sector, technicians will need a different range of skills in the future due to technological developments.
Chris Oliver, managing director of AJC Wilson, AM Bodyshop of the Year finalist, said: “Technological adv-ances by manufacturers mean new electronics and safety systems and these will need an entirely different skills set to what the industry has at the moment.
“There are some great examples of training towards the future, but these are not trickling through to the breadth of the industry.
“I think there will probably be more cars on the road, and they will be more technologically advanced. This will mean we will see less cars come in but they will be more repairable.”
He added: “Those skills will be hugely difficult to manage.
It seems we don’t have a skills gap but a skills chasm.”
The Campaign for Learning is organising a competition in conjunction with Adult Learners Week which runs from May 17 -23, asking people to predict what skills will be needed in 2020.
Visit www.campaign-for-learning.org.uk for details.