The UK automotive industry needs an image overhaul and a new approach to recruitment if it is to attract top UK talent, keep pace with growth and avoid an employee shortage crisis, according to research from Jardine Motors Group.
As the automotive industry continues to grow, companies are looking to recruit more talented workers for a range of job roles across the industry. However, the industry faces a problem attracting that talent.
In reaction, Jardine Motors Group commissioned research to investigate why people are not joining the industry. It asked 527 workers across the Jardine Motors Group and commissioned research from OnePoll of 1,000 UK workers in other industries what they wanted from a career and what they thought of the automotive industry. The results show how outdated perceptions of the industry has created a recruitment crisis.
Jardine Motors Group plans to use the research to review its recruitment strategy and suggest wider change in the industry.
The study found that gender perceptions are particularly problematic. Only 15% of women and 25% of men outside the industry are willing to consider a job in the automotive retail sector. This is compared to 85% of women and 73% of men inside the industry who would recommend it to a friend.
One stumbling block is that just 5% of women outside of the industry perceive the car industry as having a warm, friendly environment. This may be affected by the experience women have as consumers going into an automotive retail environment.
However, the industry has been working hard to change this perception in recent years and almost half (45%) of women within the sector currently believe the industry has a really friendly environment. Jardine Motors Group’s new changes to the way it works will continue to grow this number.
Furthermore, 22% of women say it wouldn’t occur to them there would be jobs available in the sector, with particular concerns around career progression for female candidates. Only 2% of women outside the industry perceive there to be plenty of opportunities in the industry.
This is in contrast to 41% of women currently working within automotive that can see clear progression for their career.
Clare Martin, Group HR director at Jardine Motors Group, comments: “The automotive sector has faced a problem of recruitment for decades despite a wealth of career opportunities. Coupled with this, the way we buy and sell cars has changed drastically in the last decade. Technology and digital buying channels has become a major force, and this requires a new breed of automotive retail worker. We have already changed the way we recruit, and the sorts of personalities we recruit, but we want to continue to improve our teams to ensure we achieve our mission of being the best motor retailer. This research will be used to help identify the problems and make a positive change. And with an estimated 20% of employees in the sector being women, finding how we can address the gender imbalance by recruiting more women is very important to us.”
Underestimating the number of career opportunities in the industry is another big problem. Only 3% of non-automotive sector workers believe there are plenty of opportunities to progress compared to 40% of people inside the automotive industry. These findings demonstrate that career opportunities and an enjoyable working environment are available for both men and women, but they are not well recognised externally.
Jardine Motors Group also discovered that in order to appeal to more than half of the UK’s working population, automotive retail needs to change the way it pays workers as 53% outside the sector said they do not like commission based roles.
For the next generation, pay was also a concern. 20% of 18 – 24 year olds would not consider a career in the automotive industry because they don’t think the sector pays as well as others for their job type. To address these concerns Jardine Motors Group is now exploring a new pay initiative across the business to give employees a greater secured income instead of a salary weighted towards commission and bonuses.
Jardine Motors Group is also reviewing working hours and shift patterns as 66% of workers outside the industry said hours to suit their lifestyle is among the most important factors to consider when looking for a job. This was consistently the top choice across admin (67%), sales (63%) and customer services (67%) job roles. These issues are addressed as a priority in Jardine Motors Group’s new approach to employee time management.
Clare Martin continues: “To continue to recruit a high calibre of employee we have to act on these research findings. Increasing awareness of the opportunities available to all people is one challenge facing the industry, but there are changes we need to make in the way we pay and our ways of working as well. It’s not simply a case of promoting what we have, we have to make big changes.
“We are confident these changes will make a difference. Altering the way that we work has already had an impact – in our annual externally facilitated employee survey 87% of our team responded and we achieved an engagement score of 90% which is a tremendous result. Making further planned changes can only enhance this. Changes are ongoing so when we open our new Oldham site, we will have effectively ripped up the automotive recruitment rule book and started again. This research will help us make sure what we are doing will create a more engaged and balanced team, and this will be reflected in our customer satisfaction. We want to show that this is the way for the industry to continue moving forward into a prosperous age for motor retail.”
Neil Williamson, CEO at Jardine Motors Group, says: “The perception of our industry is completely different to what I’m hearing and seeing when I visit our dealerships across the country. There are a lot of positives about working in the industry, but we’re serious about change and this research gives us the insight to push in the right direction, with the right changes to continue to improve our teams for customers.”
Jardine Motors Group has already started to make changes to appeal to more people outside the sector and is addressing specific concerns around career opportunities, pay structures, working hours and whether working environments are female-friendly.
All these changes and more will be enacted at a new Audi site in Oldham. The company then plans to roll out the changes across all brands in its network.
For more information on careers with Jardine Motors Group, visit our careers page.