Cross-section of a car gearbox. mechanics work in the garage. hand mechanic in working clothes

Careermag: Automotive Industry

The World in Motion

There are more than 32 million cars on the road in the UK and not one of them would be there without someone to design, build and sell. The motor industry has career opportunities at every stage of the vehicle production process, from the assembly line to the showroom, as well as roles in repairs and maintenance to keep us all on the road.

Types of Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships in the motor industry include vehicle parts, sales and roadside recovery. There are other options too, with jobs available from lots of employers all over the UK once you’re fully qualified.

About the Motor Industry

Cars are big business in the UK and some of the numbers involved are pretty impressive. The industry employs around 800,000 people and will need 50,000 new workers by 2020, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. You won’t be starting down an unknown road: there were 64,000 apprentices in the industry in 2013, so there’s a well-established training route to help you get the skills you need. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

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 apprenticeship 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. Or you might specialise in other vehicles including vans or heavy goods vehicles – there are lots of options.

Motor Skills

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.

But don’t worry if you don’t have these skills yet: that’s what your training is for. You won’t need to be a petrolhead to get on in the motor industry, just an enthusiasm for the job and a curiosity about how cars are put together and sold.

Motoring Careers

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.

Getting Started

You’ll be able to find apprenticeships and jobs in the industry at CareerMap, or head to the Institute of the Motor Industry website (IMI) – to find out more about the opportunities available.

Routes into the motor industry include:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Vocational qualifications / A Levels
  • Scottish Vocational Qualifications
  • Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
  • Bachelors Degrees

Earn and Learn

Apprenticeships are a popular way to get the skills you need for a career in the motor industry. An apprenticeship in this area usually lasts between two and three years, depending on where you’re based and what level you’re aiming for.

As an apprentice, you’ll split your time between training with an employer and learning at college. You’ll also be earning a salary and getting a recognised qualification, which will help you get a job all over the country.

IMI Apprenticeships include:

  • Vehicle maintenance and repair
  • Vehicle fitting
  • Vehicle body and paint
  • Vehicle parts
  • Vehicle sales
  • Roadside assistance and recovery

Apprenticeships are offered by some big-name employers including Audi, Land Rover and the AA, as well as local businesses. They’ll structure your training at work, to make sure you develop the skills you need alongside your college learning.

Levels of Apprenticeship

There are 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

A Level Two apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve level Three. Level Four is designed for those aiming for senior technical or management careers.

Life as a Motor Industry Apprentice

We’re a nation that loves cars. Whatever your role, as an apprentice in this area you’ll be helping the country stay on the move.

What will I be doing?

It depends on the part of the industry that interests you. 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. But that’s what all your training at work and at college will prepare you for.

You’ll also be picking up all the skills that you need to get along in the world of work. Some of those will be job related, but some will be personal – things like timekeeping, getting along with your colleagues and learning how to manage your money now that you’re earning a regular wage.

In some jobs you’ll also be facing the public and helping them, so you’ll be picking up extra communication skills along the way. But whatever role, whether you’re in a car dealership specialising in one make of car, a garage that repairs all vehicles or a factory building them from scratch, you’ll be gaining in confidence, learning a trade and steering your career in the right You could work in:

  • Roadside repair and recovery
  • New and used car dealerships
  • Garages
  • Specialist tyre centres
  • Manufacturing sites

Find apprenticeships and jobs in the motor industry near you at CareerMap.

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