What’s being done about the classic car industry’s skills shortage?

The classic car industry is at a tipping point and it’s mainly due to the widening skills gap. From where I’m sitting, unless new talent is brought into the restoration sector, iconic and historically-important classic cars could be left to die. This is because without the expert technicians who have helped maintain them all this time, these vehicles will get into a state of disrepair. In this month’s blog post, we look at what’s being done to address this problem.

According to data from a recent Car & Classic recruitment drive, there is a wide range of skills and new talent needed in the classic vehicle sector, with technical, creative, sales and marketing roles highlighted, to name a few. As the average age of classic car enthusiasts and owners is getting younger, down from 58 to 54 according to the Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA), it’s especially important for organisations to recruit younger individuals to reflect this change.

There’s no question that for many classic and vintage vehicles, however niche or well-known they may be, their custodians and dedicated experts are reaching retirement age and their skills are going with them. To counteract this, organisations like the Heritage Skills Academy or the Association of Heritage Engineers (AoHE) have pioneered new courses, tailored to younger individuals and those wishing to retrain into the classic car industry. The AoHE has recently created its new Sustainable Skills Network, which aims to show how the industry offers transferable skills to that individuals can use to branch out from the classic car sector.

By allowing key skills to be passed on to the younger generations, this will help keep the sector alive with new talent and ensure our favourite classic cars aren’t left without their respective experts. As Emma Crickmay of Frank Dale & Stepsons, one of the HCVA’s founding partners, said “…it is so important that conditions are created that allow us to develop training programmes, support skills transfer and boost diversity. We are very keen to see a boost in apprenticeships – it’s investment in the future.”

It’s not just in classic cars either; there’s a shortage of skills in the electric vehicle (EV) sector as well. The Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance (HEVRA), an organisation that specialises in and supports the UK electric vehicle industry, currently runs over 180 specialist EV garages. However by 2025, it will need to open a new EV-focused garage daily to keep up with the demand for these vehicles. In short, electric vehicle demand is overtaking the ability to maintain and repair EVs, so there is a clear need for specialist EV technicians. In fact, Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of UK car warranty specialist Warrantywise, discusses this in more detail in the company’s latest release, accessed here. He explains that “there are more zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road than there are specialist third-party mechanics and skilled labour to maintain them… this is something we need to fix, and fast.”

As specialist recruitment consultants and passionate automotive enthusiasts, we wholeheartedly agree. We want to see more and more people drawn into the classic and historic vehicle industry, bringing in new talent and ensuring the skills and mastery which the industry has survived on continues to thrive. And if we can keep more classic cars on the road and shorten the skills gap for EVs, then all the better.

If you’re looking for a career change – whether you’re just starting out or highly experienced – look no further than Marc Brunel Recruitment. Contact us today and register your details at info@marcbrunel.com to keep on top of every new role in the automotive industry.

– Akash Cheeda


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