Advertisement

"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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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!

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

"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
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020
“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”
News

“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”

Mike Rutherford thinks the motor industry can still do more to help provide life-saving medical kit
12 Apr 2020

Most Popular

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
11 Jul 2020
New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022
Peugeot 3008

New Peugeot 3008 could morph into a coupe-SUV in 2022

Peugeot’s next-generation 3008 looks set to receive a radical redesign in two years’ time, evolving into a style-focussed coupe-SUV
13 Jul 2020
New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review

We get our first taste of 242bhp Skoda Octavia vRS with Skoda tech development boss Christian Strube in the driver’s seat
10 Jul 2020