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Apprenticeships are green shoots that will help deliver the long-term switch to Net Zero

09 February 2023 #TNB News

Will Reeves (centre) with UK automotive industry apprentices at SMMT’s National Apprenticeship Showcase at Portcullis House this week.

This week, SMMT hosted the National Apprenticeship Showcase at Portcullis House in Westminster, hosted by the Chair of the All Party Motor Group, Matt Western MP. Apprenticeships are a fundamental part of the UK automotive sector and it was good to be joined by apprentices representing the breadth of UK Automotive, with large and small volume manufacturers, supply chain companies, HGV manufacturers and the aftermarket having the chance to discuss their priorities with key stakeholders.

Apprenticeship starts are beginning to recover after the slowdown caused by the pandemic, but we are not experiencing significant growth. A recent SMMT survey showed manufacturer and supply chain companies currently employ 3,000 apprentices, compared with less than 1,600 at the height of the pandemic. This represents crucial progress, but more needs to be done to get apprentice training right as we enter a critical skills transition related to zero emission and automated commercial vehicles.

That’s why SMMT has always been committed to employer-led apprentice standards, including the considerable work taking place to develop Level 3 Engineering Technology cross-sector pathways, for standards such as Level 3 Mechatronics, Product Design and Development, and Toolmaker/Tool & Die.

As the CV sector evolves its workforce and skills requirements, it’s crucial that course content reflects the needs of businesses, so that the individuals entering the industry and the companies employing them are confident in their ability to be job ready and successful.

Indeed, the sector is working hard to deliver success amid significant global economic and supply challenges. This was evidenced by SMMT’s latest registration figures, which showed new LCV registrations grew by 25.8% in January compared with the same month last year, with 22,098 new vans joining UK roads to play a vital role in keeping Britain on the move. The growth represents the first rise in new LCV registrations since the September plate change last year and, while January is traditionally a volatile month due to the intermittent nature of fleet renewal, full year growth is expected in 2023.

In further positive news, the number of battery electric van registrations also increased, by 53.5%. As we head towards the Spring, hopefully these green shoots will continue to rise.

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