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IMI warns of 16,000 EV technician shortfall by 2032

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is urging for a further acceleration of electric vehicle (EV) skills training to avoid a 16,000 technician shortfall by 2032.

While the IMI has applauded the industry’s efforts to plug the skills gap, concern still remains that there will not be enough technicians to service the number of EVs on UK roads.

The IMI said the industry has already demonstrated “a significant commitment to upskilling in the face of economic turbulence”, with over 14,800 obtaining the IMI TechSafe professional recognition in 2022.

This boosted the total number of qualified technicians able to safely work on electric vehicles in the UK to 39,000 by the end of last year.

EV labour time comparable to ICE vehicles

The IMI’s own analysis shows that contrary to what industry commentators may believe, EVs take just as much time to service as petrol or diesel vehicles.

“Despite a long-held belief that EVs – with fewer moving parts – will be quicker to service than their ICE counterparts, in-depth analysis conducted by the IMI for our response to the MOT Consultation suggests otherwise”, explained Steve Nash, chief executive of the IMI.

“In particular tyre wear on electric vehicles is heavier than on ICE models; according to Garage Industry Trends analysis of 2021 MOT test data, EVs had a failure rate of 11.43% for 2018 registered vehicles compared to 10.45% for petrol vehicles and the weak point was identified as tyres.

“The assumption that more EVs can be serviced by a single technician compared to non-EVs therefore no longer rings true.

“Garages and workshops can’t simply assume they will need fewer technicians to service EVs.

“Add to this the fact that the UK car parc is ageing rapidly, increasing the need for maintenance and adding to the already sizeable workload of technicians, and it is easy to see how the training and deployment of technicians qualified to work on EVs needs to shift up a gear.”

The IMI’s latest analysis predicts that by 2030, 103,000 IMI TechSafe qualified technicians will be needed to work with EVs, increasing to 124,000 by 2032.

However, the adjusted forecast warns of a potential shortfall of 4,500 qualified technicians by 2029, increasing to a skills gap of 16,000 by 2032.

“We cannot afford to dampen EV demand by eroding customer confidence in the ability of garages to service, maintain, and repair EVs…” Steve Nash, IMI chief executive

While Auto Trader Insights data previously outlined a decline in demand for EVs due to the cost-of-living crisis, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports an 18% increase in new registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEV) in the first two months of 2023 compared to the previous year.

While the SMMT figures might not signify an end to overall dampened demand for EVs, they do demonstrate presence of a continued appetite for the new drivetrain from UK motorists before the ban of the sale of new ICE vehicles in 2030.

“Whether it is the carrot of lower fuel costs, the stick of the 2030 ban, or simply the fact that the environmental message is hitting home to motorists, it seems the desire for EV remains”, said Nash. “We cannot afford to dampen this by eroding customer confidence in the ability of garages to service, maintain, and repair EVs.”

Nash added that despite the good take-up of qualifications in 2022, economic pressures are putting a squeeze on training budgets for new EV technicians and for those who are already IMI TechSafe qualified yet need continuous professional development (CPD) to keep up with technological advancements.

He said these factors coupled with high employment churn is putting more pressure on the sector.

Nash concluded: “If the Government does not step up soon with training support, EV trained technicians will not be available and so it risks scoring an embarrassing own-goal on its decarbonisation target.”

Technicians who have met the IMI TechSafe standards – endorsed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – can showcase their credentials by joining the IMI’s industry-wide Professional Register.

The Register lists individual members – and their place of work – who have been recognised for their achievements, experience, professionalism and commitment to a Professional Standard of behaviours, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Drivers of EVs can access the register online for free, to find local qualified EV technicians and garages.

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