There are a number of potential roadblocks to the UK government’s plan to stop the sale of pure-petrol and diesel models by 2030 – but one seldom discussed is the lack of mechanics trained to work with EVs.
Professor Jim Saker and Steve Nash, CEO and president respectively of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), have today released an open letter claiming the country “urgently” needs a “concerted, ongoing workforce development strategy” to ensure the planned sales boom in electrified cars isn’t met with a lack of people qualified to work on them.
“Right now only 5% of the technicians working in garages and dealerships are appropriately qualified to work on these [hybrid and electric] vehicles,” says the letter. “This is the real context of the government’s Green Plan. Unless we start to discuss these issues, that plan will be compromised.”
The IMI estimates there are currently between 13,000 and 20,000 technicians qualified to service and repair the approximately 380,000 plug-in electric or hybrid cars on UK roads. “Ramp up the numbers based on the government’s Green Plan and the capacity is simply not there to support the transition the government wants,” the letter continues.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made matters worse, it is claimed. While 6500 certificates for working on electric vehicles were issued in 2019, that number was down by 85% throughout the second quarter of 2020 due to lockdown. The UK was forecast to need at least 75,000 EV-trained techicians to meet the number of hybrids and EVs expected to be sold in 2030.
“The automotive workforce is already behind in the skills required for these emerging technologies – through no fault of its own,” the letter claims. “Embattled employers need support and incentives to get more of their technicians trained, and to reignite recruitment and apprenticeship plans.”
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