Powering Up the Auto Industry Through Apprenticeships

Auto industry executives tell me they can not find enough people who have the required skills.

The reasons are partly structural, partly locational and partly cyclical, but the main reason is a lack of skills among potential candidates.

Preparing for the Future of Auto Work

Thanks to the pandemic, the future of work has arrived a decade ahead of schedule. That means the methods we’ve traditionally used to develop workplace talent in the automotive industry have not kept pace with employers’ dynamic needs.

The range of roles and opportunities is extensive – from heavy or light vehicle mechanics, diesel mechanics, auto glaziers, electrical vehicle work, data analytics, engineering, services, welding, sales, procurement, logistics, finance and more.

Each year there’s a steady number of openings for automotive service technicians and mechanics – just under 70,000 across the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, for areas in the automotive sector set to boom, I’ll put my money on jobs related to electric vehicles, especially employment for data-analytics experts. More than 15% of the total number of data analysts hired in Europe in the three months to November 2021 were snapped up by that region’s auto industry, according to NewsBreak.

All that sounds promising, but supply-chain issues still plague the US auto industry. With the average (non-electric) car comprising about 30,000 parts often procured from several countries, there’s a lot to manage.

Managing Your Long-Term Talent Pipeline

Has your business been rethinking strategies for talent development and job creation? Are your hiring policies and processes a better fit for the pre-pandemic job market, rather than now? This is particularly important when you consider that more than a third of cars manufactured in North America by 2030 will be EVs or hybrid, with semi- and fully autonomous vehicles not too far behind.

The pandemic and geopolitical conflict, and the associated tsunami of digital disruption, have shaken the global car industry. Something’s got to give regarding the way you do business.

It might be time to broaden your approach to whom? you might employ. When was the last time you hired people who:

  • Hail from culturally and linguistically diverse communities;
  • Speak English as a second language;
  • Have a prison record;
  • Are neurodiverse;
  • Are differently abled;
  • Are aged over 50;
  • Do not have auto industry experience;
  • Are changing careers, taking a break from their current work, or are part of the Great Resignation;
  • Are long-term unemployed, particularly youth; or
  • Have just left school or college?

A Time-Tested Solution That’s Future-Fit, Too

You can take anyone from those demographics and grow your own long-term skills base with an apprenticeship program. Introduce them to the structure of earn-while-you-learn, build loyalty and commitment, and nurture and guide their skills development as you need them.

Employers benefit by cultivating a committed, fit-for-purpose workforce. It’s about as agile as a business can be in shaping staff for the challenges ahead, plus building a more-inclusive and diverse workplace.

Apprenticeships are an adaptable and time-tested model for transferring skills from one generation to the next. Businesses with apprenticeship programs report higher workforce productivity, innovation and employee retention. As well, graduates report superior employment options upon program completion.

Nicholas Wyman (pictured, above left) is the President and Founder of the IWSI Groupa global enterprise dedicated to matching job seekers with automotive careers through apprenticeships.


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