Earlier this week, the IMI penned an open letter focusing on one of the biggest challenges the automotive industry has faced – the need to retrain vehicle technicians to service the electric/hybrid vehicles which are set to deluge the sector.
A powerful document, signed by both the President and CEO of the IMI, the letter brought several key, worrying statistics to light – including the fact that Covid-19 may have railroaded efforts to get the critical mass of vehicle technicians needed to service the electric/hybrid car parc trained.
The number of certificates for working on electric vehicles issued in 2020 fell by 85% in the same period as the year before. According to the IMI, if we had carried on with 2019 levels of certification, we may just have reached the minimum number of vehicle technicians needed by the time the ICE ban kicks into effect in 2030.
We are now, unfortunately, way off that mark and there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered.
For years, the rapid acceleration of the automotive industry has largely left the skill set of the current workforce behind. New technology connected by hundreds of microprocessing systems has meant the car mechanic of yesterday has been superseded by the vehicle technician of today. But never have we faced such a vital need to press the skills reset button.
While being able to instil confidence within the consumer, and open up a new revenue stream by having a skilled workforce to service electric/hybrid vehicles is important, the need to safeguard the safety of employees is crucial. And let’s face it, if vehicle technicians are not adequately trained, it will only be a question of time before somebody, without the right knowledge, puts a spanner in a high voltage area. Consequently, garage owners could find themselves liable.
As a company, we are well documented in our commitment to driving up skills within the industry and creating a route to harness fresh talent. From investing in our own vehicle technician and MOT tester contractor network to creating dedicated divisions - Autotech Training and Autotech Academy.
Just last month, we launched our EV Training Suite within our Milton Keynes headquarters. Certified to deliver IMI Levels 1 to 4 Electric/Hybrid vehicle courses, the EV Training Suite features an electric vehicle for hands-on learning. This also supports our on-site EV training offering which can be delivered on the premises of any garage or business looking to equip their employees with the relevant knowledge, while keeping their time away from business to a minimum.
Time is not on our side. The Government has thrown down a deadline and, as an industry, we need to meet the challenge head-on with skilled vehicle technicians, qualified to service electric/hybrid vehicles – plus a new cohort of younger, newly trained vehicle technicians within our midst.