Features & Interviews

Electric avenues: The increase in EV technician training

20 July 2023 #Features & Interviews

As the UK advances towards a zero emission future, companies and training providers are developing courses and programmes to ensure that the country has a workforce of technicians fully trained to work on new vehicle technologies.

In February, fleet solutions provider Rivus opened the Rivus Academy, a purpose-built training centre for LCV and HGV technicians that forms an extension of its existing service, maintenance and repair garage in Leeds.

The training centre comprises a classroom style training facility, capable of delivering knowledge and theory-based learning for up to 16 people, as well as a fully equipped training workshop for practical training and assessment under test conditions.

It has been designed to deliver Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) approved hands on training for LCVs, including ICE, hybrid and fully-electric vehicles, as well as HGVs.

The Academy has a DAF HGV for technicians to complete their practical learning and assessment on, and the workshop is equipped with specialist high voltage tooling and PPE equipment for safe and compliant electric vehicle training and assessment.

Initially Rivus will focus on delivering one and two day courses for IMI Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Awareness, Routine Maintenance and System Repair and Replacement, as well as the IRTEC Large Commercial Vehicle Inspection licence.

Rivus expects to train in excess of 500 more technicians to the same standards over the next three years, so the business has the ongoing knowledge and expertise to manage alternative fuel fleets.

Victoria Knight, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Rivus, said: “At any one time, our technicians need to be multi-skilled and qualified to work on a wide range of vehicle types across HGV, LCV, alternative fuels and refrigerated vehicles because of the complex range of critical feels that we manage for our customers.

“We can now deliver the bespoke training that our technicians need, as well as deliver IMI Approved training courses to other businesses that are struggling to plug the technician skills gap.”

Breakdown provider The AA has also partnered with the IMI to train 2,000 patrols on electric vehicle issues.

This training enables patrols to follow best safety practices on electric and hybrid vehicles, including on the high voltage components or systems to repair EVs at the roadside.

The AA Training Centre in Oldbury has achieved IMI Centre approval for the delivery of the training to meet IMI TechSafeTM standards.

Dean Keeling, Managing Director of AA roadside services, said: “We are proud to receive IMI accreditation to deliver industry leading EV training to our five-star patrols.

“We are giving power to electric drivers, by training our highly skilled patrols in gold standard EV qualifications so that we can safely repair their vehicles.”

Earlier this year, Alexander Dennis announced enhancements to its AD24 Training Academy for bus apprentices involved in spare parts, mobile technician work, service centres and expert training.

The courses, fully approved by the IMI, incorporate new technologies and vehicles including battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel cell buses, alongside traditional diesel systems.

Any company in the bus and coach industry can use the AD24 Training Academy which also upskills apprentices on the electric systems used on modern buses as well as teaching how to electronically troubleshoot using multi-meters and the latest diagnostic tools.

AD24 encourages in-person classroom training and this can take place at both Alexander Dennis’s facilities in Farnborough, or on-site at the location of the trainees.

Tony Davis, Group Aftermarket Director at Alexander Dennis, said: “The advancements in vehicles and automotive technology will only continue to develop so we need the next generation of vehicle technicians and engineers to be trained effectively.

“Whilst mechanical components still form the backbone running gear on a bus, even on diesel buses most mechanical components are now controlled using CAN lines, ECUs and multiplex systems.”

In the west of England, meanwhile, Gloucestershire College has invested £500,000 in its automotive technology workshops at its Gloucester Campus, with the aim to create an EV training centre that offers a range of electric and hybrid electric vehicle (EV/HEV) short courses.

To support automotive employers in upskilling their workforce, the college is currently delivering Skills Bootcamps in EVs and now offers four short courses, ranging from one to two days covering areas such as Light Vehicle Inspection, Automotive Refrigerant Handling, EV/HEV Routine Maintenance and EV/HEV System Repair and Replacement.

Further IMI courses will cover Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) calibration and MOT testing; automotive air conditioning servicing and maintenance, and diagnosing, rectifying and recalibrating ADAS components; and diagnosis, testing and repair of EV/HEV and components.

Matthew Burgess, College Principal, said: “There is already a significant gap in the number of auto technicians who have the skills to work on electric vehicles.

“In addition to our new range of short courses for professionals, we are working with awarding bodies to embed these skills into our full-time courses and qualifications and are aiming for Gloucester to be recognised as a centre of excellence for EV training.”

In addition, Derby College Group (DCG) is set to receive a £3.5 million capital award from the UK government’s Post 16 Capacity Fund, which will enable it to provide additional EV training capacity for learners between 16 and 19.

Located at the Roundhouse site in Derby, the building will incorporate facilities such as high-level lifts and a double workshop.

It is currently in the planning stage, with completion due for September 2024.

Steven Elliott, Head of Technology Apprenticeships, said: “This facility will help strengthen the automotive skills of today’s learners and support the education of the next generation.

“We want to inspire anyone who is interested in working in the automotive industry as it is an ever-changing and exciting area to work in. It really has evolved and it’s now an extremely technical industry which requires an abundance of new skills.”

By creating these courses, programmes and propose-built training centres, businesses and training providers will be perfectly placed to meet the needs of the industry as the electric vehicle parc grows.

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