Within Britain, there are more than 161,000 automotive jobs in the industry, with another 78,000 employed across the UK supply chain accounting for an annual turnover of £64.1bn. The fact that 80% of vehicles can be manufactured in the UK suggests that this automotive sector will continue to see growth over and above the current 11% of the UK’s total exports.
Automotive jobs have experienced growth
The UK new car market has seen the highest level of new registrations in 11 years. It’s been the highest beginning to a year since 2005, with an increase of 2.9% to 169,678 units. Private registration also increased by 2.9% to 73,061. Moreover, there has been a strong shift to environmentally-friendly transport, with alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations up 32.1%, accounting for a record 3.5% share of the market. The Ford Fiesta is still the best selling model of car, with 8,353 sales in January 2016. This is almost twice its nearest competitor, with the Qashqai selling 4,839 units in the same period. The Corsa (Vauxhall), Focus (Ford), Golf (VW), Juke (Nissan), Polo (VW), A3 (Audi), Astra (Vauxhall) and C Class (Mercedes) complete the top ten best-selling models of car.
Vacancies in the car wholesale and retail trade sector reached 6,000, an increase of 4.2% on the previous year. Motor trade vacancies are up 22% year-on-year so it’s clear there are many opportunities within the industry for a variety of roles.
Types of roles
There are various types of roles that make up the automotive sector:
Automotive Service Technicians deal with basic maintenance and repair of cars and other vehicles. This extends to the systems that are mechanical, electrical and electronic.
Automotive Mechanics work primarily in the maintenance and upkeep of motor vehicles. This includes both reactive repair, and proactive regular maintenance checks. It includes diagnosis and checks, quoting and repairing/replacing faults in motor vehicles.
Automotive Electricians specialise in the electrical components of motor vehicles. This can occur at the production stage of new vehicles, or in maintenance of existing electrical systems in cars or other vehicles.
Automotive Paint Technicians most commonly work with new cars. The role involves the preparation and painting of the surface to achieve a smooth yet durable finish.
Automotive Engineers are involved in the initial stages of vehicle manufacture. Specifically, they are involved in designing, producing, researching and developing on an ongoing basis.
Other Automotive jobs
Automotive Sales Managers oversee, organise and manage a group of salespeople. In fact, this work can include everything from the recruitment and training of staff to compiling, reporting and presenting sales figures.
Automotive Assembly Line Worker has developed with the rise of technology in the industry. The evolution of technology has turned this role into more of a quality control one. Therefore, professionals in this job oversee and maintain automated equipment that produces every part of a vehicle.
Automotive Body Repairer is someone who works on repairing the bodywork of a vehicle and can include restoring, refinishing and replacing all external parts of a motor vehicle.
Product Development Engineers operate in the design and ongoing research and development throughout the product life cycle of vehicles and parts.
Automotive Retail Salesperson is essentially a car salesperson. In specific, they are responsible for the sales process of new or second-hand vehicles.
In the automotive industry, males make up around 80% or more of the workforce in the types of roles outlined above. Therefore, some estimates put the total proportion of women within the industry at 5%, whereas in the US, where women have been actively encouraged into the industry, they still only comprise 17% of total staff within the industry.
Qualifications and pathways into Engineering
Dependant on the role, there are often multiple entry points or pathways into a career within the automotive industry. The wide spectrum of entry criteria ranges from people with no qualifications to GCSEs only, A-Levels, Level 2 Apprenticeship, Level 3 Apprenticeships or even a Degree. Many roles like service technicians or mechanics begin with an apprenticeship and practical learning on the job. Automotive engineering is more dependent on a degree, usually at Honours or Masters level. It may also require a foundation year to gain entry. In the field of engineering and manufacturing, there has been a 69.4% rise in the number of apprenticeship programmes. Generally, the automotive industry is a good example of providing multiple entry levels to establish and develop a career.
Industry salaries can vary and are tied to the level of education required and experience gained. Entry-level can be as low as £13k for a retail salesperson up to £35k for an automotive product development engineer. The table below shows indicative national salaries for the different roles within the automotive industry:
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