Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the Institute of the Motor Industry


Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the Institute of the Motor Industry, looks at the challenges when it comes to increasing the uptake of apprenticeships: 

There is, currently, a welcome focus on vocational training after government committed to transforming apprenticeships in the Autumn budget, with the aim of making them more inclusive and diverse.

However, the proposed changes could have the reverse effect of reducing enthusiasm from SMEs in the short-term. And there is still a lot of work to do to ensure young people and, crucially, their parents, understand the opportunities apprenticeships offer them.

This is particularly noticeable in the motor retail sector, where perception about the industry and the opportunities has not caught up with reality.

The automotive retail industry has over 12,200 Apprentice starts each year and the IMI is the major provider in this area with 67% of all Apprenticeships in the automotive retail sector, in addition to full and part-time vocational qualifications.

The retail motor industry is, therefore, wholeheartedly committed to futureproofing apprenticeships and has already engaged as positively as it can with the reforms. In fact, the motor industry is one of the most engaged sectors when it comes to adopting and promoting the new apprenticeship model.

For this reason, the IMI urges government to stick with the new model already introduced and focus efforts on ensuring businesses fully understand how they can maximise the levy for the benefit of their organisation.

In the Autumn Budget, Philip Hammond announced that he is giving an extra £695 million to kick-start the new apprenticeship programme and this extra boost is welcome. However, the danger is that the Chancellor may have undermined the impact of the changes for small businesses by delaying their implementation.

The announcement revealed that the contribution small business have to make to the cost of apprenticeships is to be reduced from 10% to 5%. However, it won’t come into effect until next April. The result could see any small business already trying to balance their books and cash flow tempted to delay apprenticeship starts, on that basis.

This could have been avoided by implementing the changes with immediate effect. That said it is encouraging to see a lift of some of the constraints of the Apprenticeship Levy. In particular, it is great to hear that large businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their apprenticeship levy to support apprentices in their supply chain.

Although the motor retail sector remains one of the strongest advocates of apprenticeships, many employers in the sector fall into the SME category. This means it is vital that everything is done to encourage these businesses to take up of apprenticeships. The worry is that the Autumn Budget could mean a step backwards in the short term.

An Image Problem

The skills gap in the motor retail sector is already critical. Young blood is, therefore, vital as the rapid development of new technology around electric, autonomous and connected vehicles changes the face of motoring, opening up a world of exciting new career opportunities.

But the sad fact is that apprenticeships still have an image problem and that’s a key part of the struggle to improve take-up.

IMI research has shown that only just over a third (36%) of parents would encourage their child to do an apprenticeship. More than one in 10 think people who choose vocational training are not as clever as those who take an academic route after school.

The perception is that apprenticeships are a second-class option for school leavers. Worryingly, this misconception about the value of apprenticeships has actually increased in the last four years, despite the government focusing on vocational training.

In 2014, 7% of respondents to IMI research said they thought those who did apprenticeships were not as clever. In our latest research, a quarter of parents think that their child won’t earn as much, if they don’t get a degree, which is an increase from 15% in 2014.

Lacking careers advice

We need better understanding and communication among schools, employers and career advisors about the career choices available to young people through apprenticeships. However, the budget constraints in education make it an uphill task to address this issue.

Schools offering careers advice to young people is at an all-time low, which is why it is vital that we don’t underestimate the importance of equipping parents with the knowledge to give their child informed careers guidance.

Our research shows that the majority of 11-15 year old’s receive little to no career’s advice whilst at school – even though over 60% of teenagers say they wanted to jump straight into work and start earning money to avoid the growing debt associated with a university degree. However, only 1 in 5 said they would choose an apprenticeship after leaving school.

On top of the general lack of awareness of the opportunities apprenticeships offer, only 5% of parents we surveyed were aware that an individual can earn money while they study. And worryingly, this awareness has declined severely over the last four years. In our study in 2014, 20% of parents understood the concept of earning while learning.

It’s not all bad news, though, because while nearly half (42%) of parents believe employers are looking for a degree when recruiting young people, over a third (36%) believe that it’s more important to learn a trade or skill than it is to learn a subject. And encouragingly, showing initiative and common sense ranked highest in the attributes parents think employers look for at 61% and 55% respectively.

However, not just apprenticeships have an image problem. The motor retail sector also needs to do a better job of selling itself to the next generation of workers – and their parents.

In our latest study, it was clear that parents don’t believe the motor industry offers an ideal career for their children. Just over a quarter (27%) said they would be happy for their child to become a vehicle mechanic, yet 59% favour a career in engineering for their offspring. And 8% said they would be embarrassed to tell people that their child worked in the motor trade.

There are many misconceptions associated with working in the automotive industry. Yet, as motoring technology evolves – from low emissions and connected to autonomous – a vast range of job roles are being created, such as tech gurus, designers, and IT software specialists. And there is unquestionably a skills gap in the sector, putting anyone who wants to focus on the automotive retail industry in a really strong position for great career and earning opportunities.

The motor industry provides teenagers with long-term careers through a wide range of exciting job roles – plus the option to continuously learn new skills enables them to progress up the career ladder. And the IMI is focused on helping businesses and training providers engage with young people to raise the profile of vocational training in the automotive sector.

For example, IMI Autocity has been developed for businesses, parents and teachers, supplying them with information to help teenagers make informed choices.

The motor industry has long been a shining beacon for the apprenticeship model. The sector has relied heavily on apprentices to evolve our workforces and keep up with innovations. And with businesses now at the heart of apprenticeships following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and new Apprenticeship Standards, it’s vital that information is provided to teachers and schools, so that they can positively influence young people when they come to making decisions about their career and future learning.

With so many changes on the horizon in terms of the UK workforce, no time can be lost in building a sustainable pipeline of talented youngsters who businesses can then recruit and train.

Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the Institute of the Motor Industry

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Mark Leech commented on Prison Educators deserve our gratitude 10 minutes ago

The Oakwood Report can be found here:...

Mark Leech commented on Prison Educators deserve our gratitude 11 minutes ago

This article is somewhat misleading - there have been persistent complaints by the Prison...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page