Halfords investing £3.5 million in creating 1000 automotive technician roles
Halfords has embarked on a recruitment drive for its autocentres business to meet rapidly increasing demand for vehicle servicing, MOTs, maintenance and repairs. That means Halfords is creating 1000 new automotive technician roles over the next 12 months and is prioritising attracting retirees back into the workforce as well as challenging itself to increase the number of women in automotive technician roles. The recruitment drive, which will also target disadvantaged young people, is being backed by £3.5 million of technician training and recruitment investment over next 12 months.
According to Halfords, demand for servicing, MOTs, and repairs is being driven in part by huge demand for its Halfords Motoring Club which launched in March. Almost a million customers have signed up for a range of free benefits and discounts. Britain’s ageing car fleet is also creating demand as older vehicles require more maintenance and repair. The average vehicle on UK roads is now 8.7 years old, a year older than it was a decade ago.
Graham Stapleton, Halfords CEO, said he wants to use the opportunity created by a boom in demand to rewire the company’s workforce: “We have a big focus on people who left the workforce in recent years but are now starting to return in these tough economic times,” he said, adding: “We want to give people the best possible route to return to work. Becoming a qualified automotive technician can be an incredibly satisfying second career.”
Over 50s to be offered apprenticeships in Retyrement Plan
In order to meet its recruitment goals Halfords is developing what it calls its Retyrement Plan to make returning to work attractive. The plan includes greater flexibility, including part-time working, and – in what is believed to be an industry first – opportunities for older people to complete apprenticeships. The company is establishing a training academy which is capable of turning novices into qualified technicians.
The nature of the automotive technician role is changing. It is becoming less mechanical and more focused on digital technology, due in part to the transition to electric vehicles. As the industry becomes less about diesel and more about diagnostics, the technician role is becoming appealing to a broader range of people. However, the number of women in automotive technician roles is very low across the industry.
“We all need to do better, not least when you consider that many millions of our customers are women,” said Graham Stapleton, “and that means looking at what discourages women from applying for roles and taking action. That might mean introducing more flexibility; it might mean making it more appealing for young women leaving education to pursue a career in automotive.”
Halfords is also keen to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the industry. To that end, Halfords has formed partnerships with two charities dedicated to getting young people into motor apprenticeships – The Palmer Foundation and First Step Trust.
“We need to be ambitious and creative in the way we go about meeting the demand for technicians,” said Graham Stapleton. “I want us to be doing more to attract ex-offenders and people leaving the military, for example”. Halfords already has a bike technician training academy at Drake Hall women’s prison in Staffordshire.
Halfords partners Autotech Academy to form recruitment stream
In parallel with the overall goal of creating 1000 automotive technician jobs, Halfords and Autotech Academy have established a partnership that has seen 10 newly qualified Level 3 automotive students placed across the chain’s autocentres. As you might expect given the size of Halfords recruitment ambitions, that figure is set to quadruple by the end of the year as the scheme is rolled out across Halford’s UK sites.
In a bid to create as many opportunities for young people as possible, Halfords is working with Autotech Academy to source and place newly qualified vehicle technicians in paid internships across its network of 600 UK Autocentres.