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The challenges of the jobs and skills change for the Automotive Industry

01/09/16 Peter Livingstone Director


The UK’s automotive sector is growing and transforming and there are real challenges in both the immediate and longer term for developing a skilled workforce in order for the UK to maintain its global position. The automotive industry has been at the forefront of the UK economy’s recovery. In 2015, the UK built over 1.6 million vehicles, 2.4 million engines and exported almost 80% of the UK’s automotive production. The UK is the second largest producer of premium cars in the world, with over 40 car manufacturers with some of the most productive car plants in the world. According to the UK Automotive Industry Jobs and Skills Report commissioned by The Automotive Council UK, output, productivity and employment is rising in the UK and vehicle output is well on the way to reaching two million vehicles annually.

The report predicts that in the short–term, the UK automotive industry will need 2,500 workers to fill immediate jobs and by 2020 a further 50,000 people will be required across a range of skills and disciplines. The findings and recommendations from the report aimed to highlight industry priorities and the challenges they face in addressing the future skills gap and needs. In terms of the actual top 10 vacancies required now and in the future, the results highlighted that the majority of roles are for technically biased people, mainly engineers.

The report analysed which engineering jobs would be required immediately and in the future to ensure the UK remained a leader in the automotive sector. It listed the top 10 engineering vacancies which were critical now and the demand for future engineering roles. Design Engineer jobs ranked at number one, which is also predicted to double in the future, growing from 27% to 61%. The top 10 jobs were ranked as follows:

The top 10 ‘critical now’ jobs

1. Design Engineer
2. Production Engineer
3. Buyer
4. Senior Design Engineer/Lead
5. Maintenance Technician
6. Programme Manager
7. Quality Operations Engineer
8. Manufacturing Team Leader
9. Programme Engineer
10. Quality Operations Technician


The top 10 ‘future’ jobs

1. Design Engineer
2. Production Engineer
3. Maintenance Technician
4. Manufacturing Technician
5. Tool Maker
6. Manufacturing Team Leader
7. Maintenance Engineer
8. Supplier Quality Engineer
9. Design and Development Technician
10. Buyer


There are many factors which prove challenging for the recruitment of these roles. The UK’s automotive industry has experienced significant technological advances such as sophisticated software and electrical/electronic systems, hybrid and multi-fuel vehicle development and a pilot period of driverless vehicles. All these changes have impacted the type of jobs, skills and resources required for the UK’s automotive sector. Other challenges include the age demographic of existing engineers and the lack of young people taking STEM subjects at education level.

Peter Livingstone, Director of Redline Group’s specialist Contracts Division has significant experience of working in the recruitment of engineers for the Automotive sector. Peter comments: “Here at Redline we are continuously witnessing fierce competition for highly skilled candidates from clients in the automotive sector. There is a need for the automotive industry to take action immediately to ensure that future engineers meet the demands of engineering and technology companies in the automotive sector. ”

Peter continues: “There is also an increased demand in the number of specialist skills required due to technological advancements in areas such as engineering, mechatronics and robotics, etc. This need is borne out of the lack of currently qualified and experienced professional engineers available in the market place to perform these types of roles.” 

For more information on Redline Group's Contracts Division, please contact Peter Livingstone, Director of Contracts Division.