How well is the UK automotive industry prepared to face the challenges of the enormous revolution now taking place across the sector?
To get a glimpse of the current status, Phyron’s INSIGHT editor got an exclusive interview with Steve Scofield, Head of Business Development at the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). With their 86,000 members, IMI represents a major share of the industry, and Steve Scofield is ideally positioned to summarize the situation.
Here are some appetizers. Read on, or better still, proceed directly to the complete Q&A:
First, we asked Steve Scofield what his and IMI’s priorities are right now
“The enormous revolution that is taking place across the sector – from electrification and multi-modal mobility to connected and autonomous driving requires that those working in automotive are ready and fit for the future. And that’s what we are focused on right now.
“Education and training are at the heart of that mission. It’s no secret that there are enormous skills gaps in automotive that need to be filled in pretty much every geography around the world.
“The IMI has also created a Diversity Task Force to tackle what we believe is one of the root issues that could undermine the automotive sector’s future sustainability. Namely, ensuring it is future-proofed for the emerging automotive technologies with a diverse workforce. The year-long project was launched in April 2021 and we expect to report on its findings at our annual dinner next March.
Digitalization, electrification, self-driving vehicles … which single development would you rate as most disruptive for your members?
“Certainly the fast acceleration of EV adoption has to be at the top of the list. This is a global problem – but if the UK market is anything to go by there is still an enormous job to do to get the sector properly skilled to safely work on the growing population of electric vehicles.
“Our new analysis of the UK market shows that 90,000 automotive technicians will be required to provide sufficient workforce to service the volume of zero emissions vehicles predicted to be on UK roads by 2030 – the UK government’s Road to Zero deadline. However, whilst the UK automotive sector is working hard to retrain and upskill, because of the accelerated adoption of EV, we are predicting that there will be a shortfall of 35,700 technicians by 2030, with 2026 marking the point at which the skills gap will materialise.
“As of 2020, there were 15,400 qualified TechSafeTM technicians in the UK. That number represents just 6.5% of the UK automotive sector and was already giving us cause for concern.
To what extent are you focusing on the UK, Europe, and the world, respectively?
“There is no denying that a large proportion of our membership is currently UK based but it’s also important to recognise that the IMI now has members in more than 50 countries worldwide. There has never been a greater need for a professional body that can help to establish internationally recognised standards of competence for those working on new and emerging technologies.
“For example, we have recently worked on projects to assist with EV skills development in China, changing the way they train their technicians. China’s ambition is to have 50% of its workforce gaining skills through vocational education and training – that’s where the IMI is a world leader.
On a more personal note … You have spent your entire career in and around the motor industry. Did you ever consider some alternative career?
“My passion and ambition was always with the sector having grown up with my father’s business in the accident repair sector from a very early age. However, as I moved into management and leadership a new passion has emerged which is people development. In my current role both of these elements feature. That said motor racing and rallying has always been close to my heart… But never made it to the level of (Editor’s note: the Swedish world champ rally driver) Stig Blomqvist…”