The retail motor industry has competition in its psyche, but in the midst of our current dire situation, is there not a good argument for collaboration? Co-operation can only help attract new talent into our industry, preparing us for a brighter and more positive future.

Long-term planning for apprentices does not seem to have been a priority, and unfortunately, look at the position that the industry is in now in terms of staff shortages.

Many managers we have spoken to, express concern with regards to the lack of qualified and skilled staff, but in the past have done very little about it.

Employers have told us for years how difficult it is to find good apprentices, and we are aware that careers guidance in schools is often well short of adequate. Unfortunately, for many years now, schools appear to have guided their learners into further education. If any work is done in schools, it is mostly carried out by colleges and independent training providers.

Students should be given the opportunity to discover other career options across all industries. However, there is currently no national careers service that is independent of schools to deliver this.

Our industry does not shout loudly enough about the exciting career opportunities that we have on offer. It is time to wake up and realise that we as an industry, need to promote ourselves, because clearly no one else is going to.

The industry has a reputation of: “Work is busy, we don’t have time to train an apprentice”, and “Business is quiet, we don’t need an apprentice”. We need to break this cycle.

Individual dealers who have invested in apprentices in the past, have raised concerns that they leave once they are ‘out of their time’. However, recruiting and training an apprentice is 1 thing, retaining them is something quite different.

The cost of 1 company pulling a professional promotion together, in order to attract applications for apprentice opportunities, would not be deemed cost effective. However, if for once, the industry all co-operated and contributed to producing a highly professional video and social media campaign, the overall cost per business would be very sensible.

Even though recruiting apprentices today will not solve the current skills gap, we need to address this urgently. As the workforce ages, we must consider succession planning, especially considering the number of years it takes Apprentice Vehicle Technicians, MET Technicians and Panel Beaters to become fully skilled.

Once we have young people applying to join our industry, then we can go back to competing for them. Result, more quality apprentices and better able to secure the future of your workforce.