The recruitment and retention of mechanics is set to remain as a key challenge for garages and workshops in the following years, according to the Motor Ombudsman.
More than two thirds of garages and workshops, accredited by the Ombudsman for the automotive sector, said their biggest challenge was recruiting a sufficient number of mechanics.
To help tackle the perennial issue of HGV and PCV mechanics some companies have begun recruiting competent technical staff from outside the truck and bus world, and then training them up to standards.
The current shortage of skilled technicians in the heavy vehicle market is nothing new and increasing living costs are doing little to help the situation, with some businesses loath to take on additional apprentices in such an uncertain climate. Yet an ageing workforce continues to retire, leaving workshops with increasing demand for skilled staff.
The media is covering the shortage of vehicle technicians, HGV technicians, bus drivers but there is very little said about the shortage of bus technicians.
Liam Poyner – Director – Excel Resourcing said: “We work with the majority of bus operators across the UK. There’s only a handful that don’t require extra labour in the workshop. Most of them are reliant on temp labour whilst struggling to recruit due to the nationwide shortage. We’re looking at a major shift in labour market: more and more experienced technicians are choosing to freelance taking full advantage of the increasing demand. It’s a candidate driven market but there are huge concerns as the existing workforce is aging and there’s not enough new blood coming into the industry to replace it. We have just over 250 technicians working with us and 80% of them are over the age of 45.”
Craig Power – Sales Director – Excel Resourcing said: “The industry is changing. The demand for PSV technicians is at an all-time high as commercial vehicle workshops are chasing to keep up with the ever-growing number of PSVs, bus technology and passengers on the roads. Each technician has a preference over what type of vehicles they want to work on. The skills learnt as an HGV mechanic are easily transferable to buses. Working on PSVs comes with greater responsibility. Unlike HGVs, you are responsible for a larger group of people, with passengers ranging from young children to elderly and vulnerable individuals.”
Many companies have seen a massive increase in temp labour usage (or contractors). Finding and training talent takes much longer than in previous years but the demand doesn’t sit around and wait for that to happen. The buses need to get back on the road and this is why a lot of operators are partnering up with agencies to try and bridge the gap.
For more information on how this works and what are the benefits of using a temp labour provider, click here.