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Automotive apprenticeships slowly recover, but not fast enough to fill the skills gap

New IMI analysis shows that the sector does not appear to be capitalising on levy funding for apprenticeships #NAW2022

With National Apprenticeship Week (7th-13th February) focusing on the vocational career opportunities across the UK, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has released new analysis that paints a worrying picture for apprentice recruitment in the automotive sector. 

According to the IMI’s recent Automotive Education Report there was a 67% increase in apprenticeship starts in the full academic year 2020/21 compared to 2019/20. However, whilst this is 16% higher than pre-pandemic levels, the reality is that apprentice starts had slowed down considerably before the pandemic.

Joanna Hollingdale, Careers and Student Membership Manager of the IMI believes this new data suggests that automotive employers are still not looking at apprentices as an important component to tackle the well-documented skills gap, despite strong evidence of the clear return on investment of apprenticeships. 

“Automotive apprenticeship starts have had one of the smallest percentage yearly increases, with only travel & tourism (no increase), manufacturing (1%) and sport, leisure & recreation (52%) with smaller increases. Yet our sector has played a fundamental role throughout the pandemic – keeping Britain moving – and has a significant contribution to make in the Government’s Decarbonisation Plan.

“What particularly concerns us is the lack of take-up of the apprenticeship levy. Only 35% of automotive apprenticeships were levy-funded in 2020/21 compared to all apprentices that were 61% levy funded. With such a big task ahead of the sector in terms of being ready for the new automotive innovation – from ADAS and connected to zero emissions – it is crucial that employers build their pipeline of a trained workforce and the apprenticeship levy can play a vital role in supporting this task.”

The IMI is urging any employer unsure about what funding they can access to contact its support team who can provide guidance and support. To find out more visit Levy | Institute of The Motor Industry (

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