Survey reveals how young automotive students feel about a career in the industry

Almost all respondents expressed a desire to remain in the industry

Autotech Academy, an organisation dedicated to supporting the transition of newly qualified automotive students onto the industry’s career ladder, has unveiled a new report that shines a light on the aspirations, concerns and expectations of young vehicle technicians aged 16-24.

The results of the survey, conducted between June and August 2023, indicate that the industry urgently needs to prioritise the next generation of automotive talent and highlight the pressing need for a more far-sighted approach.

Skills shortages and the youth perspective

For years, the automotive industry has grappled with skills shortages and the challenge of attracting fresh talent. In fact, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) says there are 160,000 vacancies in the sector that need filling by 2031.

Autotech Academy’s ‘Automotive Future Survey Report’ presents a stark view of the situation. The survey, which focused on respondents across 90 colleges in the UK, found that around 42 percent lack confidence in securing a well-paid job within the industry after completing their automotive course.

A passionate, ambitious workforce

The survey reveals an industry brimming with ambition, with two thirds of respondents citing their unwavering passion for all things automotive as the primary reason for choosing this career path. Over 15 percent reported that they prefer the hands-on nature of the automotive industry, emphasising the value of practical skills.

Encouragingly, almost all respondents (95 percent) expressed their desire to carve out a career in the automotive industry.

The drive for career satisfaction

Young technicians aren’t simply seeking employment, they’re searching for a fulfilling career. Nearly 90 percent of them are confident that they will find enjoyment in their chosen profession in the automotive industry.

Interestingly, these aspiring vehicle technicians prioritise job enjoyment above all else when considering employment opportunities, giving it an average rating of 4.97 out of 5.

A resounding 85 percent envision a long-term future as vehicle technicians, a dedication which signifies a commitment to the industry and a desire for career stability.

Urgent industry action required

However, there’s a stark discrepancy between enthusiasm and confidence in the industry’s ability to provide well-paid jobs.

Two thirds of respondents are confident they will find employment in the motor industry. But when it comes to finding a well-paid job in the sector, that confidence slips by almost 9 percent. In an era where the automotive sector faces a severe skills shortage, this lack of confidence in competitive salaries is a serious concern.

This means that a third of newly qualified or nearly qualified vehicle technicians don’t have the
confidence necessary to pursue their qualification as a profession. It is clear that this lack of assurance among many young vehicle technicians is a significant cause for concern. This is likely due in part to the fact that automotive employers are often unwilling to consider hiring qualified candidates without practical experience.

Creating a robust talent pool

The UK’s motor industry simply cannot afford to lose these talented individuals, and it is therefore imperative that we find ways to develop more inclusive and accessible employment practices in our sector. By doing so, the industry can create a more robust and competitive talent pool, to the benefit of everyone involved.

It was the very foundation on which Autotech Group founded its Autotech Academy division.

Providing newly qualified technicians with a pathway into automotive employment through a paid internship. Every candidate is vetted, interviewed, and provided with a toolbox and uniform before embarking on a 6-12 month internship.

Since its launch in 2021, Autotech Academy has placed nearly 300 interns across the industry with a success rate of over 85 percent of these young people transitioning to permanent employment at the end of their internship period.

Simon King, interim CEO of Autotech Group, said: “Autotech Academy’s ‘Automotive Future Survey Report’ is a call to action. It highlights the passion, ambition, and potential of the next generation of vehicle technicians and is a reminder that the automotive industry has much to offer in terms of innovation and opportunity.

“Yet, it is essential to continue promoting and supporting the sector to ensure a strong and sustainable future for both the industry and the skilled professionals dedicated to it. By addressing these issues head-on, we can nurture the young talent that will help drive the automotive industry forward and ensure that its future is stable.”

Click here to read the full Automotive Future Survey Report.

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