The lack of skilled workers in the UK has been a problem for many years now. This is certainly true where the motor trade is concerned. In the digital age, a lot of young people are pursuing jobs in IT and other computer-related industries rather than more traditional skilled trades.

Back in 2008 there was an industry-wide push spearheaded by the IMI (The Institute of the Motor Industry) to  increase the number of home-grown apprentices working in the motor trade in the UK. The campaign was aimed at school kids from Year 9 and above as well as parents, teachers, learning insitutes and training providers. The discrepancy between the number of vacancies and the lack of skilled workers in the UK to fill them was a key reason behind the campaign.

The UK Government itself has addressed this issue. In a report titled ‘Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ published by HM Treasury in July of last year, they had the following to say about the importance of apprenticeships -  “Apprenticeships are a key part of some of the most successful skills systems across the
world. In many countries they offer young people in particular a high quality training route where they develop skills tailored to a particular sector or industry and earn while they learn. “

At the same time the report adknowledged that the UK is falling far behind other developed nations when it comes to key skills - “…the UK suffers from several weaknesses in its skills base that have contributed to its longstanding productivity gap with France, Germany and the US. Results from the OECD show that England and Northern Ireland are in the bottom four countries for literacy and numeracy skills among 16-24 year olds. “

What are the solutions?

  • A new approach to teaching –  The problem with a lot of  current education and training systems is that they teach in a very rigid way and don’t encourage thinking outside the box or the pursuit of more knowledge. Instead they focus on teaching a particular skill set that is often outdated as soon as it’s been learned. This is particularly relevant where the motor trade industry is concerned, where there are constant new advancements, particularly in the field of hybrid and electric cars.
  • A focus on local skills needs - Another way to approach the problem of a lack of skilled works is to put more focus on the needs of local industries. A good example of this is the Birmingham Skills Engine - an alliance of colleges, universities, employers and public services throughout the midlands. The purpose being to ensure that proper skills and training are provided and the the most talented young people are matched with the right opportunities.