New IMI data shows 16% of sector now IMI TechSafe qualified – but pace of upskilling slowing as economic downturn impacts training budgets

The first nine months of 2022 saw more than 11,500 technicians undertake the training and qualifications required to obtain IMI TechSafe professional recognition. However, whilst this number means around 16% of technicians in the UK are now qualified to work on electrified vehicles – up from 11% at the end of 2021 – the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is concerned the pace of training is waning.

“As of Quarter 3 2022, there were 36,000 EV qualified technicians eligible for IMI TechSafe accreditation,” commented Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry. “The sector should be very proud of how it has responded to the call for EV upskilling. However, we are now in a dangerous place in terms of continued commitment to skills matched to EV adoption.

“The latest Auto Trader Insights data outlines a decline in demand for electric vehicles, probably caused by the cost-of-living crisis and doubts about the Government’s electrification ambitions. This has led to a dampening of forecasts, with EVs predicted to reach 50% of all new car sales by 2027 rather than 2026 as previously expected. But the last thing we need now is for the sector to believe it has more time to get the workforce properly skilled.

“The reality is the automotive aftermarket already faces high employment replacement demand caused by an aging workforce, migration and occupation mobility. The uptake of automotive apprenticeships also has not caught up with pre-pandemic levels. There is, therefore, no time to waste in getting the sector properly skilled for electrified vehicles. It is also critical that those already qualified complete their CPD to ensure they remain competent to work on this new technology.”

The IMI predicts that the number of IMI TechSafe qualified technicians required to work with electric vehicles by 2030 is 77,000, increasing to 89,000 by 2032. Aligned to Auto Trader Insight predictions, this suggests the skills gap – when there won’t be enough technicians to service the electrified vehicle parc – will appear in 2029.

Size of EV qualified technician gap
2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
0 0 0 0 700 5,600 9,700 13,100

“The IMI would be deeply concerned if anyone believes the EV skills problem is not an immediate issue”, added Steve Nash. “It is crucial the sector continues to train and skill its workforce at significant rates. But with current economic pressures there is concern that training budgets will be the first to be cut.

“Government support for training which, in turn, will help it achieve its decarbonisation goals, is vital. It is also important to note that for technicians to remain skilled and to maintain IMI TechSafe recognition there is a need for continued professional development (CPD) in order to keep up to date with new technology. This CPD requirement and the employment churn we have identified mean the ’pot’ of those qualified is never truly ever growing but requires continued ‘refilling’.”

Technicians who have met the IMI TechSafe standards – endorsed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – can showcase their credentials by joining the IMI’s industry-wide Professional Register. The Register lists individual members – and their place of work – who have been recognised for their achievements, experience, professionalism and commitment to a Professional Standard of behaviours, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Drivers of EVs can access the Register online for free, to find local qualified EV technicians and garages.