In what is thought to represent the largest technical change in the motor industry for more than 100 years, earlier this month the Government announced that its plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles have been brought forward to 2035 and may yet happen in 2032.

In a bid to tackle climate change, these plans include the sale of new Hybrid cars too.

It is thought that by 2025 as much as 50% of the UK car market could be electrified, but currently, it’s estimated that only 5% of technicians in the industry are qualified to work on the high voltage electric systems that power electric and hybrid cars, with the majority of these roles mainly with franchised dealers.

This means the industry has just 15 years -and maybe as few as 12- to get a whole generation of technicians fully trained to the required standards to work on these vehicles.

“The news that the ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles has been brought forward to 2035 is an excellent step in the efforts to improve air quality and tackle the threat of climate change. But it brings an added pressure for the automotive retail sector, and specifically the businesses that service and maintain vehicles”, says Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

“There are considerable challenges when it comes to ensuring staff are properly trained and qualified to work on electrified vehicles, which pose a significant safety risk. Those who aren’t properly trained or equipped to work on electrified vehicles would be risking serious injury or potentially fatal shock”, he adds.

The IMI has been lobbying hard for support from Government to get the technician workforce appropriately qualified. And last October the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) gave its endorsement to the IMI TechSafe™ standards for people working on electrified vehicles.

The creation of the new EV TechSafe™ Standards, which give technicians an easy way to certify their EV competence is the culmination of detailed work to develop the Electrified Vehicle Professional Standards, championed by the IMI with support from other industry bodies. The standards centre on EV qualifications, IMI accreditation, accredited training, professional behaviours and a commitment to CPD over an agreed number of years. These standards will comply with the Electricity at Work regulations, which are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“As industry’s professional body, we have sought to put standards in place that organisations can work to”, says Steve.

“The Electric Vehicle Professional Standard is a significant step forward to address these concerns, and it will not stand still.  The EV TechSafe™ standard will evolve with the technology and the needs of the motor retail industry”, he added.

Steve Nash will join a number of industry experts at an event hosted by national training provider, Remit Group next month to debate this topic along with other future skills related challenges.

Held at the IMI, the event is entitled, the Big Skills Debate, preparing talent for the future. It will address talent shortages in the industry, current and predicted skills gaps and the challenge faced by manufacturers and dealerships alike to upskill staff with the techniques, behaviours and knowledge to keep pace with the technological advancements the sector is experiencing.

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