A lack of young people leaving education with the appropriate skills to work in the automotive industry is the biggest threat to the sector, a survey has found.
The survey of almost 400 automotive industry engineers, by specialised recruitment consultancy Jam, found that a quarter (26%) felt skills shortages would be the most pressing issue facing the car industry over the next decade.
Almost half the respondents to the survey reported increased workloads in the wake of £4 billion of investment in the sector. Companies are under increasing pressure to reduce costs, according to 85% of those surveyed, while 69% felt optimistic about the future.
Jam’s survey revealed an industry largely dominated by male professionals (89%), with 62% of participants having worked in the sector for 10 or more years.
Unsurprisingly, the sector’s ageing demographic led to more than a quarter of respondents saying that a lack of young people leaving education with the appropriate skills to join the automotive industry would be the biggest threat over the next 10 years.
More than 60% of those surveyed believe there is a significant skills shortage in the sector. Seventy per cent blamed the government for a lack of action to address the future shortfall.
Of the smaller businesses that were asked to identify what areas of support the government should give to help them remain competitive, more than a third called for additional funding for apprenticeships or graduate recruitment schemes.
Of the 65% that work for big automotive manufacturers, almost two thirds (61%) believed that they were at risk of becoming de-skilled by specialising on a single part of the production process.
The study also highlighted the British automotive sector’s resilience within a globally competitive industry, with 59% saying their company hadn’t lost business to overseas rivals within the past 12 months.
While Germany was cited as the UK’s largest rival in the global automotive sector, with 44% of responses, 58% believe that China poses the greatest future challenge.
Alex Taylor, from Jam Recruitment, said: “Our survey underlines the strength of the UK’s automotive sector even in the face of a challenging economic backdrop and fierce international competition.
“But its capacity for future growth is threatened by an ever widening skills gap. It’s telling that the sector’s small firms don’t want hand-outs or tax breaks but support to hire and train apprentices.
“The sector is a real success story of British industry and the government should heed the warnings given here and lend greater support to its future development.”