The automotive industry forms a crucial pillar of the UK economy. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, more than 180,00 people are employed in manufacturing vehicles in the UK. They create products which comprise around 13% of the country’s total exports, with around eight in ten cars produced in the UK ending up exported overseas.
For this success story to continue, however, the industry needs to constantly induct and train new recruits. But this isn’t happening at the required pace, and many voices in the industry are urging that corrective action should be taken. According to new research from Jardine Motors Group, who sell used cars online, just one in five UK employees would consider making a switch to a career in the automotive retail sector.
The industry has a PR problem, according to the research. 15% of women outside the industry would be willing to consider a job inside it, while 85% would recommend it to a friend. Those who actually work in the industry enjoy it a great deal more than those outside it might think. We see a similar story with perceived progression opportunities: just 3% of those polled from outside the industry believe that there’s a chance for them to progress, compared with 40% inside the industry.
Of course, there’s an element of selection bias, here: those who choose to work in an industry are going to be more likely to enjoy doing so. But when the disparity is this significant, it’s reasonable to suppose that there are other factors at play.
The research indicated that 5% of women perceive the industry as providing a ‘warm and friendly’ environment, while just 2% of women outside the industry perceive that there are opportunities within it. Clare Martin, the Group HR director for Jardine, was quick to highlight this as a potential area for improvement: “…with an estimated 20% of employees in the sector being women, finding how we can address the gender imbalance by recruiting more women is very important to us.”
As part of this effort, the group is looking at reviewing shift patterns and working hours – which might be sensible, given that women are less likely to work night shifts than men.
What Types of Opportunity are there in the Auto Industry?
When the average person thinks of work in the automotive industry, they might think of a man clad in a set of overalls, inspecting a production line, perhaps with a clipboard in hand. But the truth is that many different specialised professionals are required to turn raw materials into a finished car, and then to sell and maintain it. There are jobs in sales, procurement, design, repair, marketing, and just about every other niche.