Loughborough professor to head taskforce tackling BAME and gender issues within the motor industry

 Loughborough professor to head taskforce tackling BAME and gender issues within the motor industry

Emeritus Professor Jim Saker will investigate methods to improve diversity in the UK motor industry because the head of a new national taskforce.

The year-long project is going to be officially launched next month (April) through the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), of which Prof Saker is president. Its aim is to focus on the greater inclusion of under-represented groups with three key strands:

  • Attracting the BAME community to the sector
  • Helping the automotive sector be a workplace that embraces and encourages those facing physical and hidden disabilities
  • Addressing the issue of gender identity and diversity

Based on official employment figures for that industry both BAME and women constitute just 6% of the workforce.

The industry target is to increase this figure to 30% by 2030.

Prof Saker, from the School of Business and Economics (SBE), said: “Before COVID-19 the automotive industry already faced a skills crisis.

“The pandemic has just served to accelerate that issue – automotive apprenticeships supported by ASA funding has fallen 56% in the last year and this is a serious reason to be concerned.

“But the issue goes much wider than simply how to get automotive employers to recruit apprentices. The sector is not currently diverse and is therefore recruiting from an ever-dwindling pool of talent.

“That has to change if we’re likely to be fit for purpose for the new, fast-evolving technological revolution, from connected and autonomous to electric, hydrogen along with other clean fuel sources.

“There's plenty of evidence to prove that a diverse workplace delivers a better customer experience which, in turn, delivers improved profitability. The purpose of our Taskforce, therefore, is to identify how the sector can become one that appeals to and nurture a more diverse workforce.

“Automotive is at the forefront of probably the most exciting innovation to affect everyone’s lives in the next 10-20 years; there is a need to work out how to excite today’s schoolchildren and students, as well as those who may be needing to re-think their opportunities as a consequence of the pandemic, that opportunities can be found, whatever their background.”

CEO of the IMI Steve Nash said: “The automotive sector includes a huge challenge facing it as being we emerge from COVID-19. Namely, the job of ensuring it is future-proofed for emerging automotive technologies.

“And also the IMI has a deep concern that the sector’s current approach to recruitment and professional development – essentially always reverting to the same small talent pool – could severely undermine that goal.”

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