North East research highlights automotive skills gap

A survey has revealed most employers in the automotive sector belive they are facing a shortage of skills

Automotive consultant at First Class Technical Recruitment, Matthew Bowey
Automotive consultant at First Class Technical Recruitment, Matthew Bowey

New research from a North East-based technical and engineering recruitment agency has highlighted the increasing skills gap facing the UK’s automotive industry.

A survey from First Class Technical Recruitment found 78% of companies in the sector say they are facing a shortage of skills and are experiencing difficulties sourcing qualified candidates.

These companies highlighted engineering-based roles as the most difficult to fill, specifically hybrid disciplines and manufacturing maintenance specialists.

With a shortage of skilled individuals and increased demand for the small number available, 44% of companies are using alternative methods to fill these roles.

Of those, half are increasing graduate and apprenticeship intake, 25% are training internal employees and a further 25% are looking outside of the UK to fill skilled positions.

Around 67% of companies revealed they would use an external recruitment agency if it meant finding the right person.

Automotive production in the UK rose 12% during March, meaning output in the first quarter was up 3% compared to the same time last year.

Around 2,350 UK companies regard themselves as automotive suppliers, employing around 82,000 people.

With the growing supply chain and apparent skills gap the sector may not be able to meet increased demand.

First Class Technical Recruitment, with offices in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Aberdeen, supports the recruitment of skilled technical and engineering personnel for industries including the automotive, chemical, oil & gas, renewable and utility sectors.

Matthew Bowey, an automotive consultant at the organisation, said: “With only 22% of companies in the automotive sector able to effectively source suitable employees it is clear that the industry is facing a significant skills gap.

“The challenge the companies are facing cannot be ignored.

“Without a sufficient pool of candidates to draw from, the automotive industry’s progress will be stifled.

“The industry is proving to be the driving force behind the manufacturing sector’s recovery and is therefore a very attractive market.

“Companies should consider sourcing candidates from other industries with transferable skills.

“It provides a clear warning that the next generation of skilled workers must be developed before the skills gap widens, damaging the UK’s automotive industry permanently.”

The news comes in the midst of the Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign, which was launched last September and aims to increase the number of employers in the North East taking on apprentices.

The initiative was spurred on by estimates that some 8,500 skilled workers in the region are due to retire in the next five years, with too few people on the employment conveyor belt to replace them.

The principle aim of the campaign is to have 50% of business in the North East the manufacturing sector offering apprenticeships, while stressing that all businesses risk losing out to competitors if they do not invest in skills.

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