Despite its best intentions, the Government’s investment in the next generation of electric vehicles is likely to fail according to The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). It warns that the current rate of skills development won’t be enough to meet targets set out in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
This isn’t the first time the IMI has raised concerns over a potential “skills shock,” previously noting that the 1,000 vehicle technicians currently qualified to work on electric cars wasn’t enough to meet future demand. The IMI’s own research indicates that 60 per cent of consumers are thinking about buying an electric or hybrid vehicle within the next two years.
However, coupled with the Government’s promise to invest £600 million into promoting electric vehicle sales and the IMI believes urgent action on closing the skills gap is required now.
“For Britain to be a world-leader in electric and hybrid cars, we urgently need more qualified technicians,” said IMI CEO Steve Nash on 1st December 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, speaking at an international motor industry event focusing on electric cars.
“We face a severe shortage of skills and it will hurt our economy. If the skills are not in place when consumer demand begins to surge, drivers will be paying higher prices to keep their cars on the road.”
Although there are 1,000 more people currently being trained to become electric vehicle technicians, this is only 1 per cent of the workforce. On top of that, they will not graduate until 2018.
The IMI is also calling for a licence to practice for technicians in order to protect employers’ investment in the skills necessary to maintain the next generation of electric vehicles. At this moment in time, the industry is unregulated.
“There is no place for an enthusiastic amateur maintaining electric and hybrid vehicles, they have complex systems with three times the power of domestic voltage,” Nash added. “The Government faces a skills shock if it does not factor this issue in its plan to reduce carbon emissions by 65 million tonnes.”
However, Nash did welcome the government’s latest initiative to address the lack of careers advice for 16-18 year olds and achieve its target of 3 million apprentices by 2020. But whether enough of these school leavers want to become electric vehicle technicians remains to be seen; there has to be an incentive for them to do that.