1. I would like to be a mechanic.
These days, mechanics are usually referred to as technicians. This is due to the importance of technology and technical work (rather than simply mechanical) in maintaining and repairing vehicles. A lot of people only think of this job role when it comes to the motor industry. But what about other hands-on roles like body repair, paint, fitting and refinishing?
2. What qualifications do I need?
This depends on the type of job you want. The industry needs people across a huge range of functions. In England, if you are between the ages of 16 and 19, you can get your training costs paid for on an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are available for many disciplines including maintenance and repair, fast fit and body repair technicians.
You may wish to stay on at school to develop skills for more specialised areas like business studies which could lead to management or marketing. These are both areas which you could go on to study at university.
The qualification area on this website shows you available qualifications for the retail motor industry across the UK.
3. What is an apprenticeship and how do I get one? Am I too old?
An apprenticeship means you study at a college one to two days a week, towards a ‘technical certificate (VRQ)’ while working towards a VCQ/NVQ or SVQ, which proves that you can apply these skills in the workplace (where you spend the rest of your time on placement with an employer). You can also do apprenticeships in non-technical areas like sales.
An apprenticeship is fully funded up to the age of 19. Between the ages of 19-24 it may be partially funded (though this varies in some areas of England). There is no funding for over 24s.
You can get on an apprenticeship by identifying a local college or other training provider who can pair you with an employer. Many manufacturers also run their own apprenticeship programmes; details of these can usually be found on their websites.
Although minimum qualifications aren’t always set, because of the technical complexity of modern vehicles, Maths, English and Science at GCSE D-F, or the equivalent, are desirable. Scottish Standard Grades are a recommended minimum.
4. What job roles are out there?
The sector is very vast. Here are just a selection:
- Maintenance, repair and fast-fit
- Vehicle sales
- Vehicle parts
- Body repair and refinishing
- Rental and leasing
- Roadside assistance
- Customer service
5. I’ve worked in another industry for a long time. Are there opportunities for me?
Yes. Many skills needed in the motor industry are transferable; management, customer service, IT and so on. Even technical skills can be of great use; those gained in the aviation industry can be adapted by re-training, for example. Employers may need convincing so be prepared to help them understand exactly how your skills can be of use to them.
6. I would like to be a car designer/motor engineer.
Design and engineering roles (as well as other jobs connected with motor manufacturing) are not part of the retail motor industry. However other organisations can advise further. You could start by speaking to SEMTA
7. I thought there were only jobs for men in the motor industry.
This is not the case at all, although at present there are certainly more men than women employed. There is huge demand for more females in the workforce and it makes sense, when you realise that the majority of private car buyers are in fact women. Many businesses are actively looking to recruit more women.
8. Are there jobs for graduates?
Yes, the motor industry needs graduates and experienced people to manage the industry and develop ideas which can take businesses forward. Most opportunities are in manufacturing and head office roles with manufacturers – SEMTA and Automotive Academy will be able to advise further on these.