Thousands of vacancies in the automotive industry remain unfilled because of the shortage of skilled workers, according to a new report. A survey of British-based firms, including vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers, revealed that a fifth of the 5,000 vacancies still on offer were of “critical” importance.

Around 800,000 jobs rely on the automotive industry, which is enjoying a boom in car sales and production levels. But the Automotive Industrial Partnership warned that the success could be undermined by a lack of skilled engineers.

Jo Lopes, chairman of the Automotive Industrial Partnership and head of technical excellence, Jaguar Land Rover, said, “These are very significant findings which present a valuable basis for government and industry to jointly tackle this issue head-on and ensure that the growth potential of the industry in the coming years is fulfilled.

“The Automotive Industrial Partnership has already made some important steps since its inception – including the introduction of a range of training programmes – and it will have a crucial role to play in addressing the skills challenge.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said, “The automotive industry has already invested heavily in apprenticeships and training for existing staff to grow and develop a new generation of skilled workers. However, even more support is needed.

“The struggle to fill vacancies is holding back growth and opportunities for business, and it is essential that both government and industry work together quickly to identify ways to plug this gap. Future schemes must focus on quality not just quantity – and more support is needed to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in schools.”

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “This report shows we cannot be complacent. The sector needs to maintain its high productivity and international competitiveness and address the required demand of skilled workforce, engineers and designers.

“That’s why our apprenticeship reforms are putting employers in the driving seat, to deliver the high-tech, long-term skills our economy needs.”

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