The Motor Industry
They see me rolling…
Although there are already cars that can drive themselves, they don’t build, repair or sell themselves just yet. That means there are job opportunities in all those areas – and with more than 30 million cars on the road in the UK, there’s always going to be a demand for skilled people.
About the motor industry
The motor industry covers everything from your local used car dealership to the high-tech factories making supercars or luxury vehicles (and the companies behind them, like Mercedes or Ferrari). It employs a little under a million people and because demand is high, new jobs are being created all the time. There’s lots of room for progression: you could end up running a dealership, supervise the birth of supercars, or even have your own business restoring classic models.
What can I do?
There are all kinds of cars out there, with all kinds of jobs to match. Careers in the motor industry start right at the beginning of the process with concepts and designs for new models and go right to the pinnacle of automotive engineering: many Formula One teams are based here in the UK, so if you’re interested in motorsport, you never know where your career might take you.
In between, there are roles right across the manufacturing process. You could be putting cars together using the latest tools of the trade; fitting them out to a high standard; or managing a sales team in a showroom. That’s just for starters, as there are also engines to be built, individual parts to be made, vehicles to be painted and much more.
Once cars are on the road, there are also customer service roles, such as working in a garage to replace tyres, batteries and other parts. You might also be in management or development, helping a car manufacturer operate from day to day, or perhaps working on the next generation of cars.
The motor industry needs a range of skills to keep it running smoothly. If you’re working in the manufacturing process you’ll need to be good with your hands, while a salesperson is obviously going to need to be a great communicator. A roadside recovery technician, on the other hand, will need to understand how vehicles work and be able to work out what’s gone wrong, while a senior manager at head office will need the same kind of understanding, but about the industry as a whole.
Here are just some of the jobs available in the motor industry:
Maintenance and repair – vehicle service technician, motorcycle technician, auto electrical technician, mobile electrical installation diagnostic technician, lift truck diagnostic technician, assistance/recovery technician
Body and paint – mechanical and electrical trim technician, body building technician, panel technician, paint technician
Fitting and parts – fast fit technician/motor vehicle fitter, tyre technician, parts sales representative, vehicle parts adviser
There are also sales positions, as well as senior and management roles available in all parts of the industry.
There are plenty of different ways to get the skills you need for the automotive industry. Start your engines…
Work-based & work-related qualifications
Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:
– Automotive Engineering
– Automotive Management
– Electrical Engineering
– Mechanical Engineering
If you’re wanting a management or business-related role, other programmes in accountancy, finance or management will also open the door. Don’t forget: BTECs etc. can also pave the way for a degree.
Apprenticeships are offered by some big-name employers including Audi, Land Rover and the AA, as well as local businesses. There are specific motor industry Apprenticeships at three levels:
Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs/Standard Grades
Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels/Highers
Level Four (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree/Advanced Highers
IMI Apprenticeships include:
– Vehicle maintenance and repair
– Vehicle fitting
– Vehicle restoration
– Vehicle parts
– Vehicle sales
There’s also a Degree Apprenticeship in Automotive Engineering.
A Levels and Bachelors Degrees
Useful A Levels might include:
– science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects
– business studies
Already know that a degree is the way you want to break into the automotive sector? Head to UCAS and find out what A Levels (or Scottish Highers/IB modules) you’ll need for the course that interests you.
Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelors programmes in Automotive Technology, Automotive Management and Automotive Engineering; you could also consider business and finance degrees. It’s a broad industry though, so graduates in disciplines from design to politics would find their skills in demand.
Life in the motor industry
Cars come in all shapes and sizes and so do the career opportunities around them.
You might be on the factory floor working alongside high tech robots to assemble vehicles; travelling around your local area to help people who have broken down and get them on the road again; charming customers and persuading them to buy their cars from you; or eventually managing a whole team in any of those places. You could also be looking after a fleet of lorries or buses, or even working with a motor racing team.
If you’re on the manufacturing side you’ll need to be conscientious and work to high standards to make sure cars meet all the required regulations. Likewise, if you’re changing tyres, replacing batteries or fiddling with brakes, you’ll need to make sure everything is safe.
Higher up, you could find work in the head offices of major car manufacturers, perhaps running a whole region of dealerships, or working on the launch of a brand new model. Like all big companies, automotive firms have marketing, finance, IT, HR and legal teams, as well as management roles unique to the industry, so there’s plenty to aim for.
But whether you’re in a car dealership specialising in one make of car, a garage that repairs all vehicles or an international office for a luxury car maker, you’ll be gaining in confidence, learning professional skills, and steering your career in the right direction.
You could work in…
- Roadside repair and recovery
- New and used car dealerships
- Specialist tyre centres
- Manufacturing sites
At a glance: paths into the industry
- Vocational qualifications, eg BTEC, HNC / HND
- A Levels, IB or Scottish Highers
- Apprenticeships & Degree Apprenticeships
- Bachelors Degrees
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in the motor industry near you at Careermap.
1. 25,000 new jobs will be created in automotive manufacturing to build connected and self-driving cars. (Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
2. 814,000 people are employed in the UK Automotive Industry (Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
3. 41,000 people are employed in UK motorsport, including 25,000 engineers (Source: Motorsport Industry Association)