Our industry is facing critical skills shortages, and we desperately need a solution to these problems. One solution would be to recruit suitably skilled and qualified Painters, Panel Beaters and Technicians from outside of the UK. A major hurdle to this, turns out to be that our industry is NOT on the UK Government Shortage Occupations List. We must address this urgently.

Ingenia Recruitment are working alongside The IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) and the NBRA (The National Body Repair Association) in order to help make a change to the ongoing skills shortage crisis.

We have created a government petition in order to help alleviate this crisis, by allowing us to recruit skilled and qualified foreign labour.

Steve Shaw, Director of Ingenia Recruitment, said: “The vast majority of workshops and bodyshops are, or have, experienced major difficulties when recruiting and retaining staff. This leads to lost income, increased staff costs, increased labour costs to customers, more transient staff, less competent staff being employed in the hope that they work out, and dissatisfied customers.”

Motorists are experiencing higher costs for repair, increased lead times, not always having suitably trained/experienced staff repairing their cars and the risk of driving unsafe vehicles.

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, said: “The non-manufacturing side of automotive, which includes the sales & distribution as well as the service & repair networks, employs over 600,000 people in the UK, but is facing unprecedented skills shortages. Currently the sector has over 23,000 vacancies, which equate to 4% of the workforce. And many of those vacancies are in the technical roles such as Light Vehicle Technicians, HGV Technicians and Body & Paint Technicians. These are skilled roles which require extensive training; typically at least 3 years to become qualified at the minimum level.

Apprentices have long been the lifeblood of the automotive sector. But the inevitable reductions in the recruitment and training of apprentices resulting from the pandemic have created a shortage of young talent which will take some years to catch up from, despite the fact that employers are recruiting new trainees at record rates. So other solutions must be found and one such solution is for the key automotive technical roles previously mentioned to be added to the UK Government’s Shortage Occupation List, facilitating easier recruitment of talent from abroad. That is why the Institute of the Motor Industry is supporting this petition.”

Due to the lack of staff, some bodyshops are declining ‘non-viable’ jobs from insurance companies, as it is taking longer to get damaged vehicles back on the road.

Also, pressure to get jobs through the workshop to meet customer demand, on fewer staff, could lead to costly mistakes.

Chris Weeks, NBRA Director, added: “Due to a certain amount of under-investment in apprentices in the past, Brexit and then Covid we have seen a marked decline in skilled vehicle body repair technicians that has reached a critical level. We are going some way to address the problem in the future through an apprentice drive, but in the mean time we are left with a skills gap that can only realistically be filled with foreign labour. We desperately need the barriers to be removed allowing people to easily travel into the UK for work in our sector.”

We need to get motor industry Technicians, Painters, Panel Beaters and MET Technicians onto the UK Government Shortage Occupations List. Without this, it is extremely difficult to attract and recruit qualified and skilled staff.

The petition needs at least 10,000 signatures in order for government to respond. However, 100,000 signatures allows the subject to be considered for debate in parliament.

The industry needs your help, please sign this petition in order to make a difference. And, we must do this soon as we only have a limited time to achieve this:

Add Vehicle Trades (523) occupations to Shortage Occupations List – Petitions (parliament.uk)