Truck technician shortage is industry’s own fault, says Lincolnshire MD

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A Lincolnshire managing director has blamed the shortage of ‘just qualified’ skilled technicians within the commercial vehicle servicing industry on the industry itself.

Rob Spittle, managing director of truck dealership Guest Truck and Van, believes the reason for the shortage dates back to the most recent recession when businesses across the country suspended apprenticeship recruitment in a bid to save money.

He said: “Over the years we have trained many hundreds of apprentices, some of whom are celebrating 30 or more years with us. But in the most recent recession, we did something in line with what the rest of the industry was doing.

“We suspended apprentice recruitment, and now we’re paying the price with a shortage of younger technicians within our own business and right across the board.”

Rob, who operates 13 servicing locations across the Midlands, East Anglia and Yorkshire, believes that if they hadn’t suspended apprenticeships, they would have an additional 30 technicians working for them today.

As of April 2017, the government will introduce an apprenticeship levy, which is designed to create three million places for apprentices and will be paid for by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3 million and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual pay bill.

This will affect the Guest Group which will be contributing in excess of £35,000 towards the scheme.

“The situation will take time to remedy as each apprentice needs to work under the close supervision of a senior technician, which prevents any of our branches taking on more than one or two apprentices at a time,” Rob added.

“We have yet to see whether the new levy will end up cost neutral to us, or will result in paying more than we already do for our own apprentice programme.

“But the most important thing is that apprentices are encouraged to come into automotive engineering and that young people take the opportunity to begin rewarding and in the case of our company, long lasting careers.”