What the Skills Gap Means for Automotive
Despite being post economic crisis and well into recovery, several recent developments look almost certain to have serious repercussions for the sector and force significant change.The automotive industry has some significant challenges facing it over the next decade and beyond.
Many of the world’s largest car firms have made high profile promises towards the development of electric motors and self driving vehicles. Honda, Volvo, Jaguar – Land Rover among others have all made varying levels of commitment - with the biggest, Volkswagon, doubling its financial investment towards achieving an electric version of every one of its 300 models by 2030.
More locally Brexit is having its own effect on the UK with production suffering yo-yo like ups and downs only far less predictable. As currencies fluctuate with news reports of frustrated negotiations, car production enjoys record breaking highs and endures equally dramatic lows. It is not for the faint hearted.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME
However it may be another factor associated with these developments that will pose a greater risk to the future than just the sales figures.
The difficulty of finding and employing skilled engineers is something of an ongoing and growing crisis within the industry. There just aren’t enough engineering graduates coming through to meet demand and this can largely be attributed to the decline in younger students studying STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Global estimates on the shortfall of engineering graduates put the shortage at around 20,000 – just for 2017 – and this has been going on for years. Some countries are already heavily reliant on hiring foreign workers to fill the void.
One such country is the UK. But now with the uncertainty now surrounding the rights of foreign nationals to live and work there it is exacerbating the problem for them by discouraging these workers from migrating.
It is already having effect, and as the pool of global talent is being cut off it places even more pressure on their domestic education and training programs.
This is further complicated by the pressure to deliver on those promises made by manufacturers to develop and implement electric vehicles into their ranges. Thousands of additional engineers will be required to achieve this, qualified in fields not previously used by automotive in any great quantity.
Electric motors and their associated parts use different materials to combustion engines - more similar to aircraft – and so the field aerospace is increasingly falling under the gaze as a potential source of talent.
This borrowing of talent could well be a short term solution for automotive as most engineers are open to the idea of changing their field, but it does little to solve the bigger issue.
YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ASSET
The upshot of all this is it offers a fantastic opportunity of employment and career development for people looking for a career in engineering, and specifically in the automotive industry.
Collectively engineering represents the single most in demand profession globally, with seven of the top 20 roles being an aspect of engineering, and several more being associated with it.
Every dot on the below table represents a country that is lacking in that field of expertise:
Image courtesy of Michael Page
Apprenticeships are looking increasingly appealing and showing no signs of slowing down - 250,000 workplaces in the UK alone offer places which represents a 50% increase over the past 5 years.
Four out of five employers in manufacturing and engineering are reported to be planning to take on apprentices in 2018. MAT Foundry Group already offers a fantastic apprenticeship scheme which you can read about here which demonstrates our commitment to investing in our future.
Those organisations that don’t may find themselves lacking the raw materials needed to build their futures.