From education to employment

The Institute of the Motor Industry forecasts 31% year-on-year drop in EV qualifications for Quarter 2 2023

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Sector-wide skills gap, aging ICE vehicle parc and pressure on training budgets all hampering workforce upskilling to match electric vehicle adoption.

According to the latest IMI EV Technician Forecast Report, the total number of technicians trained to work safely on electric vehicles by the end of Quarter 1 2023 was 42,400, representing 18% of all technicians in the UK. However, the number of newly qualified EV technicians in the first three months of this year is actually 10% lower than the same period in 2022.

More concerning, the IMI projects that for the second quarter there will be an even more substantial decline of 31% in technicians obtaining EV qualifications compared to Quarter 2 2022.

The IMI believes there are a number of factors contributing to the shortfall in EV upskilling. As the average age of the UK vehicle parc increases, the time required by technicians working on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles also rises, reducing available time for retraining on the new drivetrain. The significant skills gap that exists across the sector is also forcing employers to ‘park’ new skills training in order to meet customer demand. Plus, training budgets are being refunnelled into ‘business-as-usual’ operations as employers manage the current economic pressures.

The consequence could be hugely damaging to the government’s decarbonisation ambitions. By 2030, the IMI predicts that the UK will require 107,000 IMI TechSafe qualified technicians to meet the evolving demands of electric vehicles. This figure rises to 139,000 by 2032, with IMI projections indicating a potential shortfall of 25,000 technicians if the current trends persist. Training for newcomers to the sector, attrition rates, the vacancy rate, and retraining needs after a three-year Continuing Professional Development (CPD) cycle all add further pressure.

“The high level of job vacancies across the automotive sector as well as the economic pressures that mean budgets are being funnelled away from training are a serious cause for concern if the government’s decarbonisation targets are to be met,” commented Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry.

“More electric and hybrid vehicles are joining the UK car parc every day, but the number of technicians trained to safely maintain, service and repair them is simply not keeping pace, creating a real postcode lottery. Urgent attention is required to address the skills gap, enhance training initiatives, and ensure an adequate supply of qualified technicians to meet the evolving demands of the rapidly growing EV sector.”

Emergency Services and Roadside Assistance lead the way in EV skills

Data published in a separate IMI report released earlier this year – ‘Electric Evolution: Examining the Triumphs, Trials and Roadblocks of the UK’s Electric Vehicle Aftermarket’ – shows the disparity in where the focus has been to date on EV skills training.

Emergency services and roadside assistance/recovery providers have the highest proportion of employees with an IMI TechSafe qualification. Giving EV drivers the comfort that, at their hour of greatest need there’s a good likelihood that an EV qualified technician will be available, 4.9 employees per roadside assistance operator are EV qualified with 3 per regional emergency services operation. The IMI also found that accident repair operations and bodyshops are investing in the skills to be EV ready with an average of 2.2 technicians per garage.

An estimated 19% of franchise dealerships have at least one electric vehicle (EV) trained employee. On average, franchised dealers have 1.8 employees who are TechSafe members on the IMI Professional Register. Independent dealerships have 1.6 EV-ready employees.

IMI TechSafe training ensures technicians can work with electric vehicles and those with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) effectively, diligently and safely. Technicians who have met the IMI TechSafe standards – endorsed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – can showcase their credentials by joining the IMI’s industry-wide Professional Register. The Register lists individual members – and their place of work – who have been recognised for their achievements, experience, professionalism and commitment to a Professional Standard of behaviours, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Drivers of EVs can access the Register online for free, to find local qualified EV technicians and garages.

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