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Education and Training

Key statistics:

  • There are a total of 3,948 courses available to the retail automotive sector at differing levels throughout the UK.
  • Scotland had 66 courses available; the lowest number of retail automotive courses across the UK nations.
  • 1,058 courses are at Level 3 and are the most widely available, followed by 577 courses at Level 2.
  • Only 63 Entry Level courses are available
  • There are 1,082 courses in vehicle maintenance / repair / servicing and 609 courses vehicle maintenance / repair, which are the most frequently provided courses across the UK.
  • There were significant geographical variations in the availability of many less popular courses.
  • Sector-specific experience is usually more highly valued than transferable skills sets and competences.
  • There is little evidence of recruitment from outside the sector.
  • There are 1,082 courses in vehicle maintenance / repair / servicing and 609 courses vehicle maintenance / repair, which are the most frequently provided courses across the UK.

Source: IMI Workforce Profile 2009, Automotive Skills SSA Stage 1 – UK 2006a, Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006b and Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006c

Qualification level of the workforce

Qualification levels in the sector are relatively low, especially for managerial and senior official occupations. Therefore, significant increases are expected in the levels of qualifications required of those employed in each occupation.

The largest incremental demand, of 110,000, is expected to be for S/NVQ Level 3 (SCQF Level 6) qualifications. Demand for this qualification level is expected to increase in all occupations with the largest increases in sales and customer service, managerial and senior official and skilled trade occupations.

The automotive retail sector has the lowest proportion of managers trained to the equivalent of S/NVQ Level 4 plus (SCQF Level 8 plus) or equivalent. Only 14% of managers operating in the sale and maintenance of motor vehicles are qualified to this level, compared to 39% across all sectors of the economy.

Source: Automotive Skills SSA Stage 1 – UK 2006a

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Education and training provision across the UK

There are significant national differences in provision, take-up of learning, learner demographics and achievement. For instance:

Northern Ireland

  • Enrolments on sector specific courses rose slightly between 2000 and 2004.
  • More than three quarters of courses were part time.
  • The most popular course is Engineering: automobile/motor vehicle.
  • The vast majority of HNC/HND and NVQ Level 1, 2 or 3 courses were for Engineering: automobile/motor vehicle courses.
  • There was a 20% rise in female enrolments and an 8% fall in male enrolments.


  • The majority of work-based learners were under 19 (60%), while 98% were under 24 years.
  • The majority of learners on courses in Wales were full-time.
  • The majority of all learners (83%) studied vehicle maintenance/repair, followed by vehicle body maintenance/repair.
  • Level 2 courses are the most popular level of course in South East Wales; elsewhere Level 1 is more popular.
  • Male learners vastly outnumbered female learners.


  • Further Education enrolments have remained broadly static since 2000/01 for automotive retail sector courses.
  • Apprenticeship enrolments have increased significantly.
  • Most enrolments in Further Education have been amongst the 16 to 18 age-group.
  • 74% of Apprentices are under 18, and 88% are under 25 years.
  • Around two thirds of Further Education learners were on part time courses.
  • FE course topics were split 80:20 between vehicle maintenance/repair and road vehicle engineering.
  • The majority of learners on all Further Education courses were studying for non-standard qualifications. Of the standard qualifications, SVQ Level 3 was the most popular.
  • The vast majority of Apprenticeship enrolments were on the Motor Vehicles course.
  • The most popular Skillseekers course is the vehicle fitting (fast fit) course.


  • There were 17,308 enrolments onto Further Education courses in 2003/04, and 42,329 onto work-based learning courses.
  • The most popular course is vehicle maintenance/repair, studied by 919% of Further Education learners and 86% of work-based learners.
  • Roughly half of all Further Education courses were studied at Level 1, a third at Level 2, and the remainder at Level 3.
  • 69% of Further Education learners are aged under 19 years, 82% are aged under 25 years.
  • 20% of Further Education learners, compared to just 4.3% of work-based learners, are from ethnic minorities.
  • Male enrolments in all categories and areas were dramatically higher than female enrolments.
  • FE funding for automotive courses was £34.8m for 2003/04, including £25.4m in core funding. Vehicle maintenance/repair courses used 94% of all funding.

Source: Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006b

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Levels of training activity in the automotive retail sector are reported:

  • 10% fewer businesses provide training than the national average.
  • About a third of businesses provide training for more than 90% of their staff.
  • Larger businesses are more likely to provide training than smaller businesses.
  • 52% of employers in the automotive retail sector are providing only 1-5 days of training per trainee/employee.
  • Smaller organisations were significantly more likely to provide long periods of training, over 20 days (23%), than medium sized organisations (7%).

The most common types of training arranged by employers are: technical (79%); health and safety (69%); and induction training (51%). Generic skills training, such as management, ICT training and supervisory skills, are consider less important. Less common training provided by employers includes: basic skills training (27%); and financial or financial compliance training (17%).

Overall, the largest proportion of training taking place in the automotive retail sector was in the broad category of workshop occupations; 48% of organisations devoted 90% or more of their training to this. In companies with less than 10 employees, 73% carried out 90% or more of their training in workshop occupations.

Source: Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006b

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Higher education

A disproportionately large number of higher education course are located in the West Midlands, at 24% of the national total. In contrast, there were no automotive engineering courses available in Northern Ireland or the North East of England, and only 0.7% of all courses were in Scotland.

Most higher education sector specific studies are towards a first degree (59.4%), although 22.4% of students were studying for Masters Degrees, and 11.7% toward an HNC or HND. All learners in Wales were studying for an HNC/HND in 2005.

Almost two thirds of Higher Education learners are under 25 years. 33% of Higher Education learners are not ‘White British’; 7% were listed as being from a UK ethnic minority. 95% of learners were male.

The number of courses available per 100 retail automotive sites gives a guide to the comparative choice of course provision available to employers in each region/country. It is important to note that because the potential number of learners that could be accommodated on each course is not considered, since no such data is available, this is not a measure of the actual capacity of the sector in each region in terms of number of HE learners.

Source: Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006b and Automotive Skills SSA Stage 3 – UK 2006c

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Finding courses and qualifications

For more information on qualifications in the sector go to the City and Guilds website or The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) website which includes a learning hub, serving as a guide to the qualifications that the IMI offers. This facility shows what levels of qualifications are needed for progression to the next level. Edexcel also offer automotive retail qualifications.

Further information on education and training in the automotive retail sector can be found on the Automotive Skills website.

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