With expectations to have almost 300 learners on programme by the end of 2023, approximately 25 percent more than in 2021/22, in roles ranging from vehicle damage assessors to paint and panel technicians, it appeared the industry was tackling the skills crisis.
However, Thatcham Research’s analysis of the latest Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) data shows that this is not being seen industry-wide. Apprentice starts in collision repair occupations are in fact stagnant and have failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels. In the education year 2020/21, apprentice starts had dropped as low as 432, just 45 per cent of 2017/18 starts. In 2021/22 this number rose to 844 fuelling optimism. However, for 2022/23 this number is currently 775 with signs that this will not grow significantly before the end of this education year.
The latest IMI Education Report confirms that the same is true when looking at all automotive apprenticeship starts. It reports that starts have not recovered from the drop experienced during the Covid pandemic, and the sector remains behind on its use of levy funds.
The report found that 2022/23 apprenticeship starts for the first eight months of the academic year were eight percent lower than the same time frame in 2019/20 and 31 percent lower than the same time frame in 2018/19. However, in contrast to other industries, the automotive sector is one of few which has seen an increase in the overall number of apprenticeship starts.
Thatcham Research continues to work closely with employers and insurers to ensure there is training capacity available within the marketplace to support repairer recruitment targets. This aligns with automotive charity AutoRaise’s mission statement to help solve the repair industry skills crisis by providing young people who want to work in this sector with employment opportunities.
The IMI report also highlights a decline in electric vehicle (EV) qualification uptake that could lead to a 25,000 shortfall in qualified technicians by 2032. Thatcham Research has recently expanded its suite of EV training to include EV Safe, which is suitable for anyone who may interact with EVs in the workplace.
Jonathan Hewett, chief executive at Thatcham Research, said:
“Supporting the repair sector remains a crucial focus for Thatcham Research. Through our industry-leading Automotive Academy, we are best equipped to provide training for future generations of repair technicians.
“Our role in this training provision is integral to the continued sustainability of the repair sector and I hope that our academy will continue to welcome classes of enthusiastic and passionate apprentices from across the UK.”
Thatcham Research remains committed to working with its insurer Members, AutoRaise, and others to ensure a sustainable pipeline of skilled technicians long into the future.
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