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Guest opinion: Political uncertainty threatens future success of the UK motor industry

IMI chief executive Steve Nash

Doubt has been cast over the UK motor industry ahead of the General Election today, with the majority of businesses in the sector finding it increasingly difficult to fill job vacancies.

With a £71.6 billion turnover and employing 814,000 people in the UK, the motor industry* reports thousands of jobs still remain vacant due to the political future being in turmoil.

As technology in automotive continues to grow, the shortage of skills to work on and with the latest motoring innovations is becoming an increasingly worrying issue. 

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the professional body for the motor industry, believes a lack of new talent coming into the sector could cause a serious roadblock in the uptake of new motoring technology if the skills gap is not addressed rapidly.

According to research by the CIPD, 53% of employers have said they are choosing to upskill their existing workforce instead of recruiting new staff due to roles being hard-to-fill.

However, 38% of businesses plan to invest in apprenticeships and many say they’ll increase the amount of money set aside for staff training. 

The IMI says recruitment and training is vital to the impending success of the UK market and it is pinning its hopes on the training levy introduced by government earlier this year to give businesses the freedom to invest in training.

Employers are choosing to seek new ways of meeting their skills’ requirements, especially in relation to younger applicants.

It’s positive to see over half of employers are now choosing to upskill their existing workforce in order to improve their skillsets, and this in turn prepares them for the changing and evolving demands of the workplace.

The IMI’s evidence demonstrates that upskilling your current workforce is always a positive way to increase productivity and staff confidence.

Staff show greater loyalty to those who trained and developed them, and after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy it’s no surprise that more and more organisations are now choosing to offer apprenticeships, including sectors such as finance and insurance who haven’t previously offered this form of training.

Growing talent through apprenticeships is a great way to build a pipeline of fresh, skilled people and the IMI is committed to helping businesses find the right ways to continuously develop their staff and recognise their achievements.          

However, we still have a big hurdle to overcome in attracting new talent to the sector and we hope whoever comes into power on Friday will look at this issue with some urgency to make sure the UK does not fall behind in the automotive ‘arms race’.

Author: Steve Nash (pictured), chief executive at the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)

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