What’s Wrong With Working In The Automotive Industry?

Monday, February 22, 2016 - 13:56
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Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry wonders why people don’t want to work in the automotive sector.  This follows a study from the Automotive Industrial Partnership and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders* which revealed that Britain’s carmakers are struggling to fill 5,000 positions because of a skills shortage.

The IMI, which represents people who work in the retail arm of the automotive industry – the car dealers, servicing and repair garages – is seeing an equally challenging picture.

“The retail motor industry offers immense potential for individuals across a broad spectrum of skills, from engineers and mechanics to business development and sales people” said Steve Nash.  “But we are hearing that there is a real difficulty in recruitment.  Yet the industry is probably currently one of the most successful in the UK economy.  The blinkered view of working in the motor trade has to be changed.”

The IMI has identified five reasons why the retail motor industry is a good sector in which to work:

  1. It’s growing – 1.59m cars made in 2015 – 10 year high; 2.9% year on year increase in new car sales, reaching an 11-year high of 169,678 units
  2. It is a competitive payer with good rewards
  3. It invests hugely in people development – in excess of £100m per annum
  4. It’s at the forefront of new technology – the motor industry is leading the way in technologies that will improve consumer mobility whilst tackling environmental concern, including autonomous and electric cars, etc
  5. Millions of pounds is invested in customer service every year

The IMI represents the £152 billion a year retail motor industry, which needs 12,000 apprentices a year to stand still.


Let us know if you experience a skills shortage in your sector, do you have trouble finding staff? And what can be done to change perceptions and make it a more desirable option?


  1. Hi I have been in the Motor trade since I left collage, I gained a HNC and the conventional NVQ 2-3 levels. I have worked for brands such as Jaguar, Jeep-Dodge and Chysler, Land Rover and Mercedes. I enjoyed my time working on some impressive high tech vehicles in which it takes a lot of diagnostic skills to repair the vehicles to a high standard and quickly.
    The passion for cars will always be key to me and the love of repairing things with my own hands, BUT the biggest issue I have is with the pay! I mean not only do you have to be knowledgeable in so many areas and constantly learning of all the new technologies which are put to the market you have to buy all the tools to do the job? And that is a constant purchase as new cars equals new tools required in order to do certain special jobs. I have a friend in IT, who earns 40k a year! and all he has to do is turn up at his warm cosy office and turn his computer on and work away. Yes computers are complex and yes there is many avenues but so do cars! And to anyone who has been a mechanic/ technician will also know the toll it physically has on your body…. kneeling, down bending your body under the dash squeezing hands in to hard to reach areas. The list goes on. And yet merely seen as a grease monkey. We are more than just mechanic with spanners we to are IT people, with diagnostic tools, we have to do Airconditioning, we do sophisticated suspension systems, we do wheels and tyres, and the list goes on. Famous saying, “jack of all trades”. But when it comes to being paid we are on average 23-28k if lucky! oh and don’t forget to buy all those tools out of your wages as they don’t come with the job.
    So the answer to “whats-wrong-working-automotive-industry” is just that. Young people can earn more and have a better life style choosing cushier jobs. Some may disagree but I have seen it and experienced it first hand and as your stats show, kids of today don’t want to slog it out and just get by when you can get another job which pays more and you get to keep 100% for you.
    I would be so much happier if technicians were appreciated more for what they do and achieve, and be rewarded with salaries that can be an inspiration to younger people seeking a future in the automotive industry.

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