Tackling the looming EV technician skills crisis: preparing for the electric revolution

As the UK gears up for the green revolution, the automotive industry faces a critical hurdle in the form of a shortage of trained electric vehicle (EV) technicians.

It’s widely accepted that action is needed to tackle this shortage and ensure EV adoption doesn’t stall due to a lack of skills in the repair and maintenance of vehicles.

While much of that action involves higher level measures such as commitment to policy, funding incentives and education opportunities, energy recruitment specialists say there are also steps that individual automotive businesses can take to protect their own futures.

Experts at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, which has more than 45 years of experience in sectors including transport, advanced technology and renewable energy, have shared some top tips for tackling the EV recruitment challenges.

The firm’s Associate Director, Lee Elwell, discusses the issue.

The challenges

According to recent reports from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), there is a huge shortage in the number of electric vehicle technicians needed as the roll out of EVs continues.

The professional body estimates the market will need 103,000 qualified technicians to work with electric vehicles by 2030, rising to 124,000 by 2032. Its adjusted forecast warns of a potential shortfall of 16,000 by 2032.

The skills shortage has been exacerbated by a number of issues impacting independent garages in particular, of which there are around 30,000 in the UK. These include:

  • Driver ambivalence towards electric vehicles
  • An increase in the average age of vehicles on the road resulting in more work on fuel-based cars
  • Existing workforce shortages – around 24,000 vacancies – making it harder to send people on the relevant training courses needed

The situation hasn’t been helped by the Government’s decision to delay the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars for a further five years until 2035. Despite this, many vehicle manufacturers have already committed to going fully electric and will be continuing with planned timelines regardless.

The opportunities

While there are challenges for businesses to overcome in tackling EV recruitment, the situation does present an opportunity for those which can invest the time and effort in preparing for the drive to electric. There are almost one million electric vehicles on the roads already and a shortage of skilled EV technicians means the garages which are equipped with the people and knowledge are well placed to take advantage of growing market demand.

The solutions

There are steps that automotive businesses can take to tackle these recruitment challenges head on and give themselves the best possible chance of finding the people they need in the numbers required.

Upskilling existing mechanics

There’s no getting away from the fact that meeting the EV technician shortage is going to involve investment in training and recruitment. But with the future being electric, it’s surely worth making the investment and getting ahead of the game.

Training courses and qualifications are widely available to upskill car mechanics to be able to work on electric from organisations such as the IMI and others. As well as future-proofing businesses, investing in employee development demonstrates a commitment to the workforce and the environment.

Short-term contractors

The general age of cars on the road has risen and already understaffed independent garages are struggling under increased workloads. This, together with the delay on the 2030 target, means EV training has probably slipped down the priority list. Garages could be too busy to send people on training courses, even if they wanted to.

Using contractors in the short-term to free-up training time for permanent members of staff, could provide an immediate solution that protects a business for the future.

Unlocking the talent pool

When skills are in short supply, it’s worth adopting a more strategic approach to recruitment, especially when the usual methods of posting on local jobs boards isn’t working. Partnering with a recruitment specialist can help unlock a business’s talent pool. That means building relationships with schools, colleges and training providers to attract new recruits, identifying people in other sectors with transferrable skills and targeting adverts in the places most likely to be seen by potential candidates.

It means knowing just where to look for those people who might not have the exact qualifications needed, but do possess the competencies and values that could make them the ideal candidate.

Creating a talent pool

Another solution could be for businesses to consider creating their own talent pools by offering training schemes or apprenticeship programmes so they have a homegrown team of skilled technicians to deploy for the electric revolution.

Getting recruitment ready

When skills are in short supply, businesses need to work harder to make themselves stand out. The first step to recruitment success is to make sure the offer and package is right by benchmarking salaries and other benefits, while clearly communicating the business’s mission and values. Factors such as a work-life balance, development opportunities, flexibility and wellbeing support can often be a deciding factor when candidates have more than one offer on the table.

Planning for recruitment

Whether new staff members are needed now or in the future, working with a recruitment specialist to plan ahead and identify the strategies that will get the results can make all the difference.

EV mechanics will play a key role in shifting society towards a cleaner, greener mode of transport, so it’s vital that the looming skills crisis is tackled head on.

For help with EV recruitment, contact Lee Elwell (Associate Director, Energy) on 01384 446154, or email [email protected].


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