Recruiters have welcomed today’s announcement by business secretary Vince Cable of a £130m investment in vehicles of the future aimed at securing up to 30,000 jobs and creating many more in the supply chain.
However, concerns have been raised about whether the UK will have the skills available.
The funding is being awarded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), a body created to turn new technologies and research & development (R&D) in the sector into commercial products.
The funding, the first of £1bn due to be awarded in the next 10 years, has been awarded to a number of consortia led by Ford, GKN, Cummins and JCB, who are working on projects to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. None of the companies had been able to comment by the time recruiter.co.uk went to press.
Richard Marchington, director of Apex Recruitment Services that supplies engineering staff to the automotive sector, tells Recruiter: “With the economy finally making steps towards growth, it is pleasing to see that Vince Cable and the government have recognised the importance of investment in the automotive sector.
“The next challenge will be to find candidates with right skillset in an already scarce marketplace. I believe that grassroots investment in training and education is the key to support sustainable growth in this sector.”
Mark Bignell, automotive managing consultant at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, tells Recruiter: “This initiative is excellent news and I particularly welcome the inclusion of smaller British innovation businesses. However, it intensifies the need to solve the rising issue of skills shortage in the UK that is already causing considerable concern in the automotive industry: our clients are finding that there aren’t enough highly-qualified engineers to satisfy current demand and this investment will require a further increase in the supply of skilled engineers.
“Initiatives such as this, while helping to retain the UK’s technical lead, will inevitably increase the gap between demand and supply of the best technical people.”
A spokesperson for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says that while the UK has a particular shortage of electrical and software engineers, “a lot of vehicle manufacturers have their own programmes, for either upskilling staff or apprenticeships, and there is already funding available”.
The spokesperson adds: “The APC is going to be a bit of a beacon for people to go into the engineering space. It is going to be a focal point for R&D and for people to be able to see the results, and will pull people in this area as an attractive career option.”