Halfords boss urges government to do more to address skills gap as shortage of mechanics starts to bite
A shortage of specialist mechanics is interfering with Halfords’ agenda to rapidly grow the number of electric cars on Britain’s roads to such an extent that the boss of the company has called on government to do more.
Graham Stapleton, chief executive of the retailer and motoring services business, said he is “very concerned” that sufficient steps are not being taken to address the “skills gap”.
The Government said earlier this year that it will ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.
It said there are about 500,000 zero and low emission cars on UK roads, but this is projected to rise to up to 11 million vehicles by 2030.
Mr Stapleton said there is expected to be a shortfall of about 35,000 technicians across the UK able to deal with these vehicles, and called for state support to rapidly grow this workforce.
“There are simply not enough and we will have to keep training thousands every year if we want to be anywhere near the levels needed.”Halfords CEO
“I’ve been talking to the Government because I am very concerned that we need to be training more people, or at least setting out how this process will take place.
“The plans they have laid out to grow the electric car space is obviously really interesting, but there need to be skills in that space to cope with this.”
It comes amid widespread labour shortages across UK industry, with skilled sectors such as engineering witnessing rising vacancy rates.
Axle Group deal
Halfords said it has accelerated its hiring over the past year and grown its number of apprenticeships focusing on the electric vehicle market.
The retailer said it will also take on hundreds of extra staff after agreeing a £62m deal to buy Axle Group, owner of the National tyre servicing brand.
The deal will help Halfords expand its operations to 1,400 locations and will boost the rapid growth of its services business.
Mr Stapleton said the business has been pleased with efforts to grow consumer recognition of motor services operation.
“There has been an advertising push specifically focused on motoring services for the first time,” he said.
“We have been incredibly happy with the performance of that part of the business but are still keen to get out there a bit more, and make sure more people see that as a major part of Halfords.”