Upskilling technicians to service and repair EVs
The Social Market Foundation (SMF), a cross-party think-tank, is warning that Britain will run out of mechanics to service the growing number of electric vehicles on its roads by the end of the decade. Shortages of qualified technicians risks driving up servicing costs and potentially leaving some drivers unable to have their cars maintained properly.
While the coming shortages could undermine work to decarbonise British transport, the SMF said they also create an opportunity for the creation of more skilled jobs, underlining the potential benefits of the Net Zero agenda.
The number of EVs on UK’s roads is rapidly increasing, and recently reached 1 million. However, the number of skilled technicians that can service such cars is not keeping pace with the growth in EVs, SMF analysis shows. The SMF report highlights industry estimates that by 2027 there will not be enough qualified mechanics to maintain all of Britain’s EVs. By 2030, the country could face a shortfall of 25,000 qualified technicians.
The SMF is calling for Government to step up work to prepare the British workforce for Net Zero, supporting efforts to recruit and train more workers with the skills needed to maintain EVs. Those skills are significantly different to those required to maintain internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
Research for the SMF’s new report, titled ‘A vehicle for change: Upskilling the UK’s technicians to service and repair electric vehicles’, saw extensive stakeholder engagement and primary qualitative research including a focus group of nine vehicle technicians, a policy roundtable of industry experts and public officials, and additional in-depth interviews with training providers, which the IGA contributed to.
- There is currently a surplus of well-trained technicians to service and repair EVs for existing and near-future demand. While this is a welcome finding for existing and prospective EV drivers of today, this progress should not be taken for granted.
- Concerted action from government and industry is likely to be required to avert a looming skills crunch in 2027. The industry is set to face a shortfall of 25,100 EV-trained TechSafe technicians by 2030. This raises concerns for the safety and mobility of the UK, and achieving net zero targets.
- The industry not only faces this green skills challenge. The increasing computerisation of cars and efforts by manufacturers to monopolise the aftermarket space are seen as key concerns within the industry today.
- In speaking to workers and expert stakeholders, we learnt of upskilling barriers such as recruitment challenges, low confidence in Government plans for the EV transition, FE colleges capital constraints and the need for additional support for small workshops
- The EV transition represents a unique opportunity to get more young people into the auto technician sector who are passionate about climate action and technology.
- Launch an attractive green careers campaign to get young people and those from underrepresented backgrounds into EV repairs.
- Key low-carbon industries, including EV repairs, should be central to the Government’s consultation on Apprenticeship Levy reform
- Develop a medium-term credible plan to upskill technicians for EVs
- Introduce a mandatory license to operate in the repair and maintenance industry
- Create the conditions for fair competition, as market structure should be allowed to evolve to ensure it is delivering good customer outcomes and can overcome issues of low demand for technicians in the future.