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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Insight into the relative dearth of technicians in the CV industry: an article by Andy Lees of PG Automotive

Date: 12-Dec-2019

1) What do you think the reasons are for the recruitment issues in the industry?
The explosion in the last twenty years of degree level students leaving university will certainly be a contributing factor as to why there is a current dearth of new talent within the CV sector. These students are typically studying more business focused courses, with less emphasis being placed on trades. What’s more, with the constant evolving developments in technology, social media and companies based around service provision the automotive trade has seen a general decline in new starters at the workshop level. 

The perception of the automotive trade also remains outdated, as a place of cold, damp and dirty working environments, making it an unappealing prospect to any person other than the diehard vehicle enthusiasts. The option to go into a trendy, warm, and fashionable environment with on-site coffee shops, brainstorming and recreational areas are just too much of an inviting proposition for the younger generation. 

2) What can businesses do to make themselves attractive to new recruits?
Companies of all shapes and sizes need to engage with their target audience from a much earlier age. In doing so they can help to capture the imagination, along with showing a clear vision for the career path, and the potential of constant development. Apprenticeships with funded training development plans should be offered within the make-up of the employment package - the investment in the individual by the business can then be repaid through longevity of service. 

Finally, businesses that feel they are lacking the appeal for new recruits should also look at the working conditions and environment.  So rarely is this done, but in doing so enables employers to identify areas of improvement that will help to create a more attractive place to work. 

3) What recruitment processes should a workshop have in place?
Recruiting for a workshop is very black and white; qualifications, experience and length of service per job, however one of the main elements so often overlooked is the cultural fit. This is something that is very much forgotten or not evaluated thoroughly enough. CV workshops looking to recruit new candidates could consider replicating some workshop activities into a discussion format to identify the candidates mental and verbal decision-making skillset. To incorporate this into the interview stage the client could then evaluate the candidate’s personality to further understand their acknowledgment of the safety, mechanical or financial impact, and assess the variations between the individuals. The employer will assess the candidates answers from their mannerisms, mood and temperament, in doing so giving the hiring manager a much deeper understanding of who they are going to introduce into the existing workforce and potentially work with. 

4) In a service, maintenance and repair business, who should be the ones making the hiring decision and why?
This is a difficult question to answer as you would say the most senior or qualified individual working in the same department, however this is not always the case, especially in a SME where the owner is usually the only decision maker of this nature. In workshop environments, where there can be a multiple of individuals working in close proximity, it is very important to try and gauge the temperament of a character of any possible new recruits. A simple pre-appointment ‘meet and greet’ can help enormously, as a balanced workforce that get on is a more productive one. This process might be unconventional but if it was adopted, I believe more selections would lead to a more positive outcome for both parties. 

5) What is your advice for attracting new people into the industry? Is it something small businesses can do or is it a wider governmental problem?
As stated earlier, apprenticeships are the key to attracting new people to the industry, especially those from the younger generation. I also think businesses should get government relief on the funding programs they offer. In doing so I have confidence in it becoming increasingly easier for local and national businesses to advertise their needs, and demonstrate a path of investment in the future of their workforces. As a result, any student that is potentially interested in joining the commercial vehicle or automotive sector can do so by joining apprenticeship routes, which offers benefits such as immediate earnings and no student debt, which so often limited access to higher education. I also think universities should work more closely with local businesses to promote the apprenticeship schemes. Universities are well placed to provide the necessary training and access to the environment that the younger generation want to be involved with, so we should be tapping into this resource.

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