As CEO of the IMI, and a key figurehead of the automotive industry, Steve shares his views and fears on the future of the sector, the need for greater employee engagement, industry consolidation, and a strong, sensible trade deal.
During the pandemic, the IMI witnessed a significant increase from its 75,000 members for support. With 97% of all automotive businesses now up and running, but 120,000 employees within the sector still on furlough, Steve discusses the ‘broad brushstroke’ of Government support which missed many areas: ‘There was nothing bespoke for the industry.’
Sharing his fears that training and recruitment, which featured so highly on the agenda of many automotive businesses before the lockdown, will now be pushed further down the list Steve also admits that, while training will look very different, there will still be a place for face to face training. Drawing parallels with the financial crisis a decade ago: “The seeds of the familiar problems are coming up again. But it is important to broaden an employee’s engagement within their role from – businesses cannot afford to overlook development, or they will face the cost.”
On creating a pipeline of talent, Steve discusses the 87% drop off in automotive apprenticeships since the pandemic and how FE Colleges – the Cinderella of the industry – needs Government support to ensure provisions don’t disappear: "Delivering automotive courses requires a high level of investment – we need large numbers of students coming through the ranks.”
With the interview taking place on the day reports broke that, within a year, motorways will see driverless cars, Steve also reinforces the need for training regulation. Largely unconcerned on the future of electric vehicle training; “electrification is here to stay,” he focuses on the urgent need for ADAS and fully autonomous driving training.
“The fact that there isn’t an appetite for general licensing by the Government is a sad thing. But, as these new technologies come through, it is vital that we are on the right path.”
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