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Pressure mounting in automotive supply chain, says Paragon

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With car sales accelerating at 15% a year, pressure is building throughout the automotive supply chain, according to Paragon Vehicle Services.

The company, which processes more than 500,000 vehicles a year, is warning of a growing skills shortage that could restrain growth, if action isn’t taken.

It recently invested £3.5 millon to grow its capacity, and has implemented an apprenticeship programme, but says the whole industry needs to urgently address the issue.

Paul Bromley, managing director of Paragon Vehicle Services, said: “Britain’s automotive infrastructure is running hot and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

“Across Europe the recession took people out of the industry and investment has lagged behind the strong recovery in car sales.

“The industry needs to come together to address this issue before it begins to put a brake on sales.”

The UK explosion in car sales looks set to continue as the industry shifts to a contract purchase model, fuelled by low interest rates and strong residual values. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), British new car registrations had their strongest September in 10 years.

Sales rose by 5.6%, compared with last year, to hit 425,861 new car units, the thirty-first consecutive month of growth. Britain is on track for a total of 2.45 million new car registrations in 2014, which would be the highest level recorded since 2004.

Paragon claims that it is recruiting in all areas of the business but faces pressure on drivers, people with technical skills and strategic managers, who are key to enabling the sector to successfully emerge from the economic crisis.

The company has launched a management development program to give its middle and junior managers the skills to become future leaders. It has also developed a local schools initiative to promote awareness of Paragon and a career in the automotive industry. 

Bromley continued: “From workshop operatives to drivers, it is important that the motor industry raises its game to attract young talent, and encourage people who left the sector to return. There is clear evidence of skills shortages across the UK and this will hold back growth in the long term.”

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) recently launched a social media campaign to steer 16 year olds towards a career in the automotive sector. The campaign took place under the banner #MotorCareers on social media sites and had the backing of more than 30 companies and organisations. The IMI will also push the campaign out through its 587 centres.

IMI CEO Steve Nash said: “Automotive apprentices can train in top class colleges and in cutting edge facilities. For a young apprentice in the motor industry there is the added advantage of earning while they learn. They can work towards one of 150 different job roles, in a well-paid, high tech industry without the worry of shackling themselves with student debt. With 11,000 apprenticeships started in the motor industry in 2013 there are lots of opportunities to choose from in technical, management, IT, sales and finance.”


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