From education to employment

Booming car industry signals prime opportunity for young people

Britain’s next generation of automotive talent has just four weeks left to enter the Autocar Courland Next Generation Award and jump start a career in the UK’s booming automotive industry.

While average wages across the UK have remained largely static over the last 10 years, workers in the automotive industry have seen an average increase in pay of 33% over the same period.

Soaring car sales and exports, as well as a 250% increase in investment in R&D in the last decade, have led to a rise in the number of lucrative job opportunities in the car industry.

Meanwhile, the UK is also producing more expensive cars than before – the average value of every car exported from the UK has gone up from £11,000 to £20,900.

The UK supply chain has also benefited, further expanding the raft of opportunities available to young people aspiring to work in the automotive field. The percentage of car parts sourced in the UK has risen from 36% to 44% since 2011, representing an additional £3 billion worth of parts made in Britain.

Despite the buoyant state of the industry, there is still a shortfall of new graduates to drive it further forwards – in engineering alone, there are an additional 20,000 new graduates a year required to maximise the growth of the automotive sector.

The Autocar Courland Next Generation Award has a proven track record of not only identifying the best emerging young talent but providing a springboard into the industry. Three quarters (74%) of all finalists are now working in the sector.

The initiative is open to entrepreneurial young adults aged 17-25, who submit an original idea or innovation that they believe would improve UK automotive business in one of five areas: mobility, connectivity, sustainability, customer experience or marketing and communications. The deadline for entries is 5pm on August 29.

Autocar’s editor-in-chief and head judge on the Next Generation Awards panel, Steve Cropley, said: “Britain is renowned the world over for its talented automotive workforce and its rich pedigree means that the industry has long demanded more employees than the country can supply.

“While Brexit provides a challenge for the car industry, the opportunities and good wage packets are undeniably there for aspiring young workers thanks to investment in R&D and the fact that we are making higher value cars here now.

“In 2006, Jaguar’s highest-volume car was the X-Type and Nissan’s was the Micra. Today, they have been replaced by the F-Pace and the Qashqai, cars that are worth about twice as much.”

The Autocar Courland Next Generation Award was started in 2009 to be a springboard into the automotive industry for young people.

The winner of the 2017 competition will receive a £9000 cash prize, industry acclaim and a money-can’t-buy six-month work experience programme, shared between award sponsors Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Nissan, Toyota and Horiba Mira, which has joined as a new award patron this year.

In total, 74% of the finalists of the award since its inception have found industry positions. Jonathan Maynard, a finalist in 2012, is Lead Engineer for Interior and Exterior Components at Aston Martin and 2015 winner, Nicole Agba, is a Colour and Materials designer at McLaren.

Case study

Katie Jones was a finalist of the Autocar Courland Next Generation Award in 2011. She is now a key part of Jaguar Land Rover’s colour and materials team. Last year, she was lead designer for colour and materials on Jaguar’s crucial new SUV, the F-Pace.

After graduating from Leeds University in 2012 with a BA (Hons) degree in design and colour technology, she went straight into a job as an interior designer. But her passion was always with automotive design and, having reached the final stages of the Next Generation Award, she was soon offered her “dream job”.

She said: “Working on the F-Pace was a challenging but very rewarding role, especially seeing the final product come to life. My primary objectives were the development and delivery of both interior and exterior materials and finishes for the car, liaising with design, marketing and engineering along with external suppliers to ensure the design intent and vision was maintained throughout the development process.

“If you can identify a gap in the market, the opportunity to present your ideas to a well-connected and experienced panel is incredibly rewarding but can be extremely challenging. It’s very important to be clear and confident when you communicate your idea to the panel. The Next Generation Award can open doors and offer crucial experiences for the next generation of designers wanting to enter the world of the automotive industry.”

Award partners:                   

  • Autocar
  • Courland Automotive 
  • Honda
  • Horiba Mira
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • McLaren Automotive 
  • Nissan
  • SMMT
  • Toyota GB

Previous winners:

2009                            Mohsin Basharmal                              Coventry University

2010                            Hari Meyyappan                                  Loughborough University

2011                            Oliver Brunt                                         Northumbria University

2012                            Roberto Antonio Pace                        Kingston University

2013                            Jake Larsson                                      Cranfield University

2014                            Nicole Agba                                        Coventry University

2015                            Morven Fraser                                    University of Glasgow

2016                            Joshua de Wit                                     University of Sussex

About Autocar: Autocar is the essential news, reviews, entertainment and reference title for committed car buyers and enthusiasts everywhere.

It specialises in revealing the secrets of new cars, while its famous road tests are used by the industry and consumers alike as the authoritative benchmark.

Autocar’s readers are recognised as the most influential in the UK. The knowledge they glean from the magazine and pass on leads to thousands of car purchases a year.

Autocar now has 13 editions worldwide, and its fast-growing website means Autocar now has 3.3 million readers a month, viewing 12.9 million pages.

Meanwhile, Autocar’s YouTube channel has become the most authoritative motoring video site in the world, garnering more than 250 million views and 550,000 subscribers.

About the award: The Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award was launched in 2009 by Autocar in partnership with Courland Automotive and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and was set up to find and nurture bright new talent for the automotive industry. Seven years on it has touched thousands of people and is regarded as the leading competition of its type.

The Next Generation Award challenges young talent to come up with a problem-solving idea or innovation that will improve the UK automotive business.

A team of industry judges assesses entrants ideas based on innovation, technical and commercial viability, and how easily the innovations can be implemented. The winner receives a £9000 prize plus a six-month work experience placement shared between the award sponsors.

The award is open to anyone aged between 17 and 25, as long as they reside in the UK or study at a UK school, college or university. All entrants must be eligible to work in the UK and be available for work experience.

Entries are put through an early round judging process that’s carried out by senior industry professionals. Six finalists will then be given a mentoring session with a partner judge before being invited to a presentation day at the Autocar HQ, Haymarket Central London office, Berners Street. The winner will be announced at the  Annual Dinner of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday, 28 November. 

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