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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

IAAF Summer Conference blog: The Fault in our STARS (1)

Date: Thursday 30 May 2024

Change is coming. We’ve exhausted all arguments on skills gaps, shortages, blame games and all else to explain why we’re lagging behind on bringing people into our trade.

​True enough, we’re not the only industry that could benefit from an influx of new people, new ideas and perspectives.

​BBC’s Home Editor Mark Easton, wrote in his book Britain etc… – relating to policing in the UK – that it wasn’t the “...bobby that abandoned the beat, but the beat that abandoned the bobby." Easton was referring to the fact that the advent of the television and the motor vehicle took people off the footpaths and playgrounds and towns were geared towards the motor vehicle. There was no “beat” for the bobby to make anymore.

​In the aftermarket, there’s an uncomfortable truth that we haven’t changed enough to meet the demands of a new skillset and demographic that positions the motor industry as a future career.

​Post Covid, the fault in our Skills, Training and Aftermarket Recruitment has become more evident, but there’s an undercurrent of change coming, which makes us more connected than ever. Garages are firmly operating as businesses first and motor factors embrace training over and above product-related content. Suppliers offer a multitude of roles in which people can migrate from other sectors and in which new entrants can enjoy a varied career.

​This all adds up to sea of change in our trade, which is changing the hearts and minds of those that view us externally. A career in the automotive industry is now about being able to shape the future mobility for generations to come, in a world of Artificial Intelligence and a diversified vehicle parc.

​We now treat data and trends with the respect it deserves – there’s a reason why the automotive aftermarket looks after the service and repair needs for 26 of the 34 million vehicles on UK roads.

​But like any movement, there needs to be a narrative. Where are we headed? What are our next steps when we reach our first destination. The fate of our industry will be determined by those that give back to ensuring its prosperity and evolution.

​Change, any change, comes from within. Let’s reach for the STARS.

IAAF Summer Conference, headline sponsored by Alliance Automotive Group, takes place on Wednesday 12 June at the Belfry Hotel and Golf Resort