Skills gap “a timebomb” for aftermarket, says GSF CEO

The UK’s automotive sector is facing a skills gap timebomb, the CEO of GSF Car Parts has warned.

Ahead of the 4 July general election, Steve Horne has urged any future government to put the problem at the top of their to-do lists.

Horne added that the skills gap is stifling the market’s potential and increasing costs for motorists.

Currently, the automotive aftermarket is in an employment pit with vacancy rates at 4.3 per 100 employees, which equates to 43% above the average for all sectors. Across all of automotive, this rises to 5.1 per 100.

Post-pandemic recovery patterns, technological advances and changing customer behaviour are all contributing to this.

“The skills gap currently facing the sector is a huge ticking timebomb – and it only seems to be getting wider and wider,” said Horne.

“This is incredibly painful for garages that are successfully winning work and looking to grow.”

He added: “The skills gap is a straitjacket around the growth ambitions of the entire sector. GSF Car Parts is recruiting heavily and adding a huge range of skilled jobs. But finding people is a real challenge for the sector, and there is no sign that this will let up any time soon.

“As a company, we want to grow too: we have invested millions in scaling our business and driving growth, but our success depends on our customers being able to thrive. And for that, they need skilled technicians in big numbers.”

Horne said that the skills gap could have a detrimental impact on UK consumers, reducing choice, competition and ultimately driving up the costs of motoring when many are already feeling the pinch with the move to an EV future.

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) recently predicted a shortfall of 160,000 workers this decade, with major concerns around the number of vehicle technicians.

Steve Horne added: “We need to sort this out – and quickly. We need to direct more young people to the sector, give the industry a name as an ideal career destination, whilst opening more routes for young people.”

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