Lifelong Learning Within The Automotive Industry

 At the IMI, we believe passionately that the automotive industry is a driver of innovation, employment and economic growth. 

We believe the people working in the industry need the most relevant, up-to-date skills and qualifications in order to progress – especially during times of intense change. In an industry that is ever changing; not only with new vehicles but new technology and fuels as well, we believe life-long learning is crucial to stay on top of industry trends.

Here at The Institute of the Motor Industry we firmly believe every day is a school day and that our learning never ends. 

Whether it be for personal or professional reasons, your ongoing pursuit of knowledge will not only enhance your personal development but also your employability and competitiveness in an ever growing industry.

We are very lucky that our industry was not hugely impacted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the industry remained open, servicing and selling vehicles. What we did see is a shift in the skills the industry was looking for when seeking new employees. 

Skills the Industry Needs

Skills such as self-motivation, enthusiasm and problem solving have been requested more over the last 4 months then in the previous year. The most requested skills across all occupations are communication and customer service skills. That is not to say that technical skills are not a necessity, just that they need to be supplemented with soft skills and a more people led focus. 

Soft Skills are not something that have only just appeared. As the IMI’s research shows, the need to mix hard and soft skills has been around for a number of years. It’s just that until now the focus has been so heavily on technical abilities. But as we enter 2021 against a challenging economic backdrop and with a competitive job market out there, now’s a good time to embrace your soft skills and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

So what soft skills do you need to succeed?

The IMI has spent a considerable amount of time analysing skills requirements across the industry, including monitoring four years of trends in jobs postings data from labour market analysts Emsi. This reveals which skills are in demand over and above typical levels, and the answer is that there has been a significant growth in the need for soft skills. We have also seen an increase in job postings over the past months with the industry getting back to 2019 levels.

Desired Soft Skills

Effective communication: is chief among the soft skills we all need to improve, whether it’s for in-person chats, Zoom meetings or regular phone calls.

Motivation and Enthusiasm: are important, particularly if you’re able to top up your own levels. People are motivated by different things and it is important to identify what motivates you and keeps you passionate.

Focus: soft skills are not just about the cuddly fluffy stuff. Enthusiasm, passion and motivation are great but for big ideas to happen you need to be able to focus that passion and enthusiasm and direct it accordingly.

Professionalism: is part of your reputation, and savvy companies know that a professional culture, both internally and externally, will be crucial for all businesses’ survival.

It’s time to nurture those soft skills and be optimistic. As Sarah Douglas puts it: “Hard though it is for us all, there’s a spirit of optimism to grasp right now. It’s an opportunity to seize the day and get on with the things we’ve been kicking into the long grass for a long time.”

Moving into the industry

With the Government’s Lifetime Skills guarantee focusing on upskilling and reskilling individuals we are very lucky to have 15 qualifications listed under the National skills funding offer for adults allowing you to reskill across a range of specialisms from a vehicle technician to an accident repair specialist. We also have a suite of Apprenticeships available with no upper age limit suitable for those just starting their career journey to those looking for a new direction. 

New to the industry?

If you are just starting out on your career journey, we have a host of information available from employability toolkits to work experience guides and pre-recorded careers talks.  More information on these and the different careers and resources available can be found on our Autocity Website.

Already in the industry?

For those of you already in the industry looking for a move or promotion, there is a wealth of resources available for you to be able to upskill and get yourself promotion ready! 

We can support you with rewriting your CV, improving your employability and soft skills. We have CPD learning pathways developed with this in mind, from moving into management to excelling at customer service and sales.

As part of our commitment to learning we offer a huge suite of training opportunities from e-learning to physical courses up to and including level 5 qualifications. We have Alchemy assistant which offers over 140 e-learning courses and we have recently launched our IMI Careers Hub, a fantastic free resource for our members which is packed with interactive tools, e-learning content, assessments and careers advice. It has dedicated learning pathways for you to be able to progress your career, so whether you want to learn how to manage others, manage your time better or prepare yourself for promotion, there is content to suit every need!

Are you more of a visual learner? If so then we have a suite of webinars and videos that will match your needs from Employability videos discussing online profiles, interview techniques and improving your soft skills to mental health and wellbeing to more technical support, these are all available on The IMI YouTube channel.

The IMI also has a range of Electric Vehicle courses available, suitable for beginners to experienced technicians. We have discounts available for those already in the industry and a host of approved centres across the UK able to deliver training, all helping to support the Industry into the next phase of technology through training and learning.

IMI research suggests that if technicians get trained to work on EVs, they can boost their earnings potential by up to 13%!

The future

The future of the industry is exciting, with new technology and fuels coming to the forefront, ACES is a big focus for the industry – Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared. 

We have already seen the beginnings or Autonomous vehicles, from self-driving cars to robots delivering food. We are becoming more connected with smart technologies in our homes and offices now evolving to cars and cities. We see cities and towns trialing e-scooters and e-bikes in an effort to reduce traffic and make our country greener. Not to forget we have a tough target from the government to transform our vehicles from Diesel and Petrol to alternative, greener, power sources.

The way we buy cars is changing from the car dealership showrooms to retail and online car shops and with the change in technologies comes the change in design and the materials we are using. Autonomous vehicles may be safer and we may see a drop in road traffic accidents, but the complexity of these vehicles means that our repair industry is only going to have to become more sophisticated, but that represents a real opportunity. 

Investment in skills, people and technology will be required, and the importance and relevance of the sector will only grow. 

In an ever changing, ever growing industry knowledge is key! You have the opportunity to be able to show your passion, motivation and enthusiasm for the industry by keeping abreast of new technologies, Industry trends and your willingness to learn.

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