Paint and Body Car Shops Warn About the Lack of Qualified Labour

Recent research conducted by Auto Body Projects/Trend in the United Kingdom, ‘Future of the UK Car Body Repair Market 2019-2014’, found that over 35% of car shop owners/managers who responded to the survey believed that the shortage of trained professionals is the main problem for this sector.

Because of this deficiency, the not-for-profit organisation AutoRaise has been working since 2012 to try to reduce the impact of the scarcity of qualified labour over the car repair industry by presenting the repair sector as an attractive alternative to other job opportunities, higher education, or college to young people.

According to Mark Bull, director of Trend Tracker and author of the research, the gap in skills presents a great challenge for the body repair industry. The ageing of the professionals is linked to a lack of investment in recruitment and training for technicians and apprentices, resulting in a shortage of qualified labour that encompasses the whole sector. To all these factors one has to add the effect of Brexit, which has led to many expert professionals from Eastern Europe returning to their home countries.

The same situation can also be seen in Spain where the FP Dual (Dual Vocational Training), a modality of vocational training that intends for students to train in a craft by working in a company, has not been able to tackle the paint and body car shop’s problems. For this reason as well, several provincial and regional car shop associations have rung the alarm bell and asked for help from the different autonomous governments. The associations want to improve the current offer for Automotive Degree seats since, nowadays, this does not manage to cover the vacancies in several geographic regions, leading to a shortage in the replacement rate.

A very particular case can be seen in Galicia (Spain), where the third most important factory of the country, according to its production volume, is located. This factory, which belongs to the PSA group and is located in Vigo, engages all newly graduated qualified labour from all around the autonomous region, forcing the other car shops, like the ones located in the province of Lugo, to consider hiring labour from outside Spain.

According to research conducted by Aprevar on the car shop association in the province of Lugo, 60% of the entrepreneurs who answered the survey feel that the main problem for the car shop sector today lies in the lack of qualified labour. Furthermore, 74% said that they need to hire between one and five qualified workers a year.

In France, with over 35 million cars in use, the sector is also fighting to recruit qualified professionals. Automotive services (repair, maintenance, sales…)  employ around 493.000 workers and it is estimated that around 20.000 and 25.000 more are needed to be able to satisfy the sector’s needs, many of which should be car painters. Anyhow, regardless of all technological innovations, safety controls or wage increases, the post sale sector does not manage to attract young people, and it continues to be the production sector which attracts the highest number of professionals.

Due to all these reasons, the body repair sector will continue to be, within the automotive aftermarket, an attractive field in which young professionals would be able to build a career. It is a segment which, for sure, will continue to generate considerable demand for qualified professionals able to reproduce the ever complex workmanship that is demanded by carmakers at the body and paint shop.

The lack of labour in the sector of vehicle repair is an issue that has affected this industry for some years now. It is an evident problem in the countries of the EMEA region, showing more or less common characteristics for the different markets where body car repair professionals are concerned.