Licensing and accreditation scheme for technicians working on automated and electric vehicles

Part of Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 23 March 2017.

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Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:45, 23 March 2017

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We know that the automotive industry relies on hundreds of thousands of individuals in a range of roles to support work on and to maintain vehicles, and it will continue to do so in the future, but as technology develops, so too must the skills of those working on vehicles. We have already heard that the automotive industry faces a skills gap, and as technology develops that gap could widen.

The Bill as it stands does not address that worsening skills gap. We could soon face a gaping hole in the support structures needed for ultra low emission vehicles and for connected and autonomous vehicles, including automated vehicles. The Government need to have a laser-like focus on building our skills base, as people across the automotive industry have told us time and again, not only for electric and automated vehicles but for other car technologies too. That means we need a skills base in automotive research, development and manufacturing, as well as for technicians working on vehicles, so that we can boost job prospects and personal development for the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods linked to this industry.

All that is much needed and important, but the new clause goes deeper than that. It asks whether it is not time for the proper accreditation of qualifications for maintaining and servicing this new generation of sophisticated vehicles. I think the evidence indicates that it certainly is.

I declare an interest as a fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry. It has shown that 81% of independent garages find it difficult to recruit technicians with the skills and competences they need to undertake work on the kind of technologically advanced vehicles that we have been talking about. It thinks that of the 180,000 technicians in the UK, only about 2,000 are qualified to work on electric vehicles, all of whom are employed in manufacturer dealerships.