Diversity dilemma in aftermarket industry

Diversity dilemma in aftermarket industry

New research has found the aftermarket industry is facing a diversity dilemma with less than one in five women (19%) saying they would consider a job as a repairer.

The research carried out by insurance provider Direct Line Group, found that nearly six in 10 (59%) Brits would dismiss the profession as it simply doesn't interest them. Others perceive it as strenuous and labour intensive (17%) and nearly one in 10 women think it's a 'man's job' (nine per cent).

In a bid to help the industry change lanes and drive awareness of the diverse range of opportunities on offer, the Group has teamed up with leading experts to take a future-forward look at the innovations and improvements they predict will be a reality by the year 2050.

Working with safety researchers, Thatcham Research, smart city innovators, DG Cities and the Women's Engineering Society, the insights collated showcase the exciting technology the industry is embracing.

This includes holographic and augmented reality (AR) technology; advanced robotics to assist with manoeuvring and adjustment of vehicles; 3D printing of car parts to improve turnaround time for repairs; ultra-connected workshops; hyper clean work areas akin to laboratories; self-diagnosing cars; video communication technology for mechanics to speak with customers; advanced laser welding; space saving car storage; innovative staff training areas for mechanics to learn as technology evolves; and mobile electric charging stations to keep vehicles batteries in peak condition.

According to industry experts the mechanics of the future will need to be more computer savvy than ever as technological advancements driven by electric and autonomous vehicle development continues.

However, the research highlighted the perception problems the industry faces right now, with nearly a third of Brits (29%) admitting they don't associate repairs with engineering, demonstrating a lack of awareness that it is a highly skilled profession. In addition, when asked what term they associate most with a car garage, nearly two in five (38%) women said 'male', compared to just 27% of men.

Elizabeth Donnelly, chief executive officer at the Women's Engineering Society, said, 'It is fantastic that strides in technology have been made in repair garages, however, in order to make the automotive engineering sector more diverse and encourage more women to consider it as a viable career option, we must ensure that this starts with education from an early age. Curriculum traditionally tends to teach children about gendered careers from foundation level, which is perhaps why there are so few women in engineering. We hope through education and the exciting developments within the industry we can promote engineering as an exciting profession for all members of society.'

Motor network technology specialist at Direct Line Group, Felicity Harer, said, 'At Direct Line Group we're constantly looking at the changing landscape and technological advancements in the automotive industry to ensure that our garages are the best they possibly can be, both for our employees and our customers.

'We hope this glimpse of the future shows young people in particular the variety of careers that are evolving in engineering, and that it will encourage people from a wide variety of backgrounds to consider a career in this sector. With innovations like driverless cars within touching distance there is a huge space for people to work in and shape the way repairs are performed on these vehicles and the technology needed to do so.'

The Group has opened its 2019 technical graduate scheme programme and is looking for technical engineering graduates who are interested in using their engineering or technology degree to help revolutionise the future of the industry.

Technology is at the heart of the graduate scheme and participants will complete placements as vehicle damage assessors (VDA), specialists in advanced technology and working in their technical transformation team to learn to handle and support changes in the repair network.

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July/Aug 2019
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