Recruit. Retrain. Retain.

The global skill shortage is felt at every level of our lives, disruption to logistics, manufacturing, repair and maintenance – there are very little areas affected. What can those in the automotive sector do to keep Britain mobile? Hayley Pells MSc CAE FIMI

“Professional Busy Bodying” is what my husband calls my work within consultancy. It is not difficult to understand his frustration with my obsession with it. Poorly remunerated (if ever when it gets political), long hours of attendance and a huge about of diligent research – it is a wonder I do not get frustrated with it myself. Like an itch that is impossible not to scratch I return to it. At the busiest time of year for my workshop, I left to attend County Hall and was quite delighted to see the clock face for Big Ben emerging from scaffolding and able to walk the familiar streets once more. Not quite back to normal, the meetings were hybrid affairs, and I was delighted to have a physical place at the table, this meeting was for the Federation of Small Business (FSB), and I was keen to make the point about the success of the Super Deduction and how a case for widening the scope to include training pertinent to the government ambition for electric vehicles in 2030 would increase uptake.

This work ties in nicely with my role as part of the Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce, an IMI organisation bringing together like-minded professionals within the automotive sector and led by Dr Jim Saker. We all ultimately want to achieve the same thing. Fair play for all in and entering our industry, supporting newcomers and our existing professionals, retaining and hopefully welcoming back experienced hands.

Those in the industry have understood for a long time that this environment is demanding, we at the coal face endure physical and mental challenges with technology that requires continuous learning, improvement and investment. How can we hope to recruit, retrain and retain those who we will pass this baton to?

It starts with self. Self-improvement and self-care. The great thing about this approach is that we all have a self. I have often wondered at films involving time travel, how they focus on one small thing that can change history, yet we are oddly reluctant to apply that thinking to ourselves. Small change can be hugely impactive for self. Start with reflection of where you are and where you want to be and plan, share the plan and get on board with others who share your goals. Online communities are a great place to start, so are organisations like the IMI to log your progress and help develop your career. Remember to self-care, you can only focus on the plan with appropriate rest and recuperation. When appropriate for your situation, physical attendance for training is a great way to meet and share experience, events such as the UK Garage & Bodyshop Event which is supported with valuable training and resources to log learning both physically and digitally.

Self-improvement can be infectious and create a great working environment, this in turn helps attract work returners and newcomers, if you have capacity – get involved helping others realise their potential or have a voice within volunteer opportunities that help to shape our future. These opportunities can be as simple as an online consultation or more involved in joining an advisory group.

Resources that scaffold the individual building their knowledge and skill set are provided digitally and as restrictions are eased, physically too, this shows that the industry is behind our need to develop our ability to work on new technologies. Work within lobbying groups and government to reflect the acknowledgement much work needs to be completed to staff the workshop of the future. The link between personal transport solutions and economic growth for the country are widely acknowledged, our current skills and the ones we need to develop are going to be a big part of building back better.

Skills: extract from Gov.uk

Support productivity growth through high-quality skills and training: transforming Further Education through additional investment and reforming technical education to align the post-16 technical education system with employer demand.

Introduce the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to enable lifelong learning through free fully funded Level 3 courses, rolling out employer-led skills bootcamps, and introducing the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

Continue to focus on the quality of apprenticeships and take steps to improve the apprenticeship system for employers, through enabling the transfer of unspent levy funds and allowing employers to front load apprenticeship training.

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