Apprenticeships can be a big investment in money and time and dealers are finding it more difficult to find quality candidates.
The automotive industry is viewed by the majority of young people as a no-go area when it comes to thinking about their future job.
Steve Yardley, ReMIT chief operating officer, said: “There’s a big skills gap and the automotive industry is an aging workforce. There are not enough people to fill that gap and the industry needs to tap into GCSE level. There needs to be a vocational option for people at that stage in their life.
“The hardest thing in the industry is to measure attitude. If dealers are just going on grades to evaluate people they will be missing so many opportunities for recruiting some top young people. A superb attitude mixed with the right training can switch a light on.”
Richard Ennis, dealer principal at Mercedes-Benz Colchester, told AM: “There are heavy negative perceptions put on our industry and the automotive industry is not painted as somewhere good to work.
“Schools need to do more to highlight the industry in a better light. Trying to recruit quality apprentices is very difficult, even with the draw of the Mercedes-Benz brand name.”
Chris Butler, dealer principal at Heath Park Motor Company Peugeot, said: “We attract a lot of kids leaving school with no grades applying for positions in the workshop, but they rarely have the potential to succeed.
“I think a lot of school leavers believe it’s an ‘unqualified’ profession, but that’s just not the case.”
Pat Harvey, Benfield Motor Group, aftersales development manager, believes the industry should look at appointing more apprentices for front end and customer service roles, not just technical positions.
The IMI has pledged to increase the number of apprentices joining the retail motor industry by 100% to 40,000 by 2013.
Steve Scofield, the IMI’s head of skills development, said: “It’s very important that our industry gets behind the apprenticeship more so now than ever before. It needs capable young minds which can be developed into tomorrow’s business leaders, sales professionals, master technicians and a whole host of career opportunities.”