"You just can't get the staff these days - or so say car industry bosses"

Bosses say the British car industry needs more apprentices, despite a career in the business being rewarding and fun, says Steve Fowler

I always wanted to work in the car business. If I wasn’t lucky enough to be doing this, I’d be working somewhere doing something, somehow, related to four wheels.

Most of the people I get to meet through work feel the same way – whether it’s my colleagues here, or the most senior execs in the industry. Only this week I met with Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, who looks as thrilled to be doing what he does today as I’m sure he did on his first day in his job as an apprentice at a UK automotive supplier.

But, it seems, fewer people are feeling that way and the UK car industry – in the midst of a real boom in terms of manufacturing, engineering and sales – is struggling to attract the right talent.

'JLR's growth is an unprecedented breakthrough for UK PLC'

It’s what the boss of industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Mike Hawes, described to me as a skills shortage. And it’s a real problem – in factories, engineering centres and even on the showroom floor.

So much so that car makers are having to look abroad for the right sort of people. And even some dealers are struggling to find staff to sell cars.

Andy Palmer says the problem is even worse among the second tier of suppliers – so he and others have to look to foreign companies to supply the necessary hi-tech parts his cars need.

"It's been a great year for the car industry, so we're told"

Part of the problem, according to Hawes, is the success of our industry. Such is the current rate of expansion of the UK’s car business, there aren’t enough people to fill the vacancies.

Apprenticeship programmes are on the rise and are a brilliant way to get into the motor industry. But young people still need convincing a career in the car business can be invigorating, rewarding, thrilling and fun. And it’ll be around for a long, long time. 

What do you think about the state of the UK car industry? Let us know in the comments below!

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class
Car group tests

Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class

The Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class are strong competitors in the premium hatchback market - we find out which is best
19 Sep 2020
New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review
Rolls-Royce Ghost

New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review

The all-new luxury Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon brings new levels of refinement
18 Sep 2020