Supporting the automotive aftermarket and creating solutions to bridge the talent gap has continued to be the overriding objective of Autotech Group in 2022. Suffice to say – it’s been a busy year.
A key highlight of Q1 was our Talent Recharge: ‘How to gain, train and retain talent’ event in March. Over 200 senior leaders from OEMs, dealer groups, independents and the tyre, paint and body sectors united alongside automotive industry trade bodies and representatives from the education sector to kickstart the skills conversation.
Unequivocally, the event was a resounding success and, over the course of the year, each of our divisions, created in response to the needs of the industry, witnessed a significant rise in demand as businesses put the gain, train and retain mantra into practice.
Putting training into high gear
Not too long ago, electric vehicle training was vastly regarded as a requirement for the garage of the future, but, as the number of EVs on UK roads increased, the aftermarket woke up to the opportunities having EV-skilled staff could yield. This year alone, our Autotech Training division has delivered IMI electric vehicle training to over 1,000 delegates and, following the addition of IMI EV Heavy Vehicle courses to our portfolio midway through the year, over 100 delegates have achieved this accreditation.
EV training hasn’t just been limited to the aftermarket though, and the Autotech Training division has major contracts in place with EV production facilities, vehicle refurb companies, local authorities and emergency services. The message that employers will be liable if their employees are not trained to work around electric vehicles which are, to all intents and purposes, giant batteries, is finally filtering through.
Our EV training reputation, along with our purpose-built EV Training Suite, has reached a global audience this year too – with delegates travelling from the Caribbean, the Falkland Islands, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for training. But it isn’t all about electric vehicles. Upskilling across all areas has increased and we have seen an uplift across our entire course offering. Over 200 MOT managers have now been trained, while Automotive Air Con Refrigerant and Handling courses remain popular with hundreds of technicians trained and over 50 IRTEC, REACT and ADAS courses delivered.
While this success is largely underpinned by reputation, what has clearly set the Autotech Training team apart is flexibility. Over 70% of training has been carried out on the premises of a garage or business with our experienced trainers collectively travelling over 150,000 miles this year.
With Colin Gleghorn at the helm as Managing Director, and a team which has grown over twofold in 12 months, Autotech Training will continue to go from strength-to-strength next year with many new initiatives in the pipeline.
Plugging the gap
The foundation of our business – our Autotech Recruit division – has continued to plug resource gaps throughout the industry this year with over 350,000 hours filled by our network of temporary vehicle technicians, and 150,000 MOTs carried out by our MOT testers.
From this network, contractors who are trained under our Manufacturer Led Programme (MLP), helped to accrue over £11 million in additional revenue for manufacturers including Volvo, Toyota, Ford, VW, and BMW.
While testament to the reputation of our contractors, demand for their services is also a reflection of the skills gap within the industry and the reliance on temporary technicians to provide additional resources. When we started this business in 2010, temporary cover was largely used to cover holidays and sickness, but over the years this has increasingly turned into longer-term contracts as the industry struggles to recruit skilled workers. As a sector, we need to continue to up the ante and make the pool of talent available deeper, through better pay, and fulfilling training promises, while widening the net and tapping into talent who have previously been pulled from the aftermarket into other industries.
Creating a new recruitment stream
Opening up new avenues to harness fresh talent underlined the creation of our Autotech Academy division in 2021. Overcoming the bottleneck of recruiting newly qualified vehicle technicians, Autotech Academy’s unique, paid internship initiative has paved the way for a new generation of vehicle technicians and the division has gone from strength to strength in 2022.
Over the course of this year, we have forged relationships with 70 FE colleges, partnered with 33 dealer groups, and placed over 140 interns. Since the launch of Autotech Academy over 50 interns have transitioned into full-time employment.
Colleges play a vital role in educating our future workforce and our Academy team works hard to cultivate relationships with them while building ties with automotive employers to effectively ‘close the loop.’ As part of this effort, this year alone, the team has undertaken over 68 college visits across England, Scotland, and Wales – and delivered talks and events to automotive college leavers!
New initiatives for the New Year
The ongoing skills shortage will certainly follow the industry as it moves into 2023 and as a company, we will continue to bang the drum, building upon our continual support for the industry, through the introduction of new, innovative services. As we enter the New Year, our internal workforce will have increased by 35% creating an even stronger foundation of support.
In parallel with the evolution of vehicles, the pace of change within the aftermarket will continue unabated and, early next year, we are planning to announce the launch of a new division of Autotech Group to aid the industry as it continues its journey.
Simon King, Managing Director, Autotech Group