Automotive industry should offer progressive environment for female workers to thrive

Automotive industry should offer progressive environment for female workers to thrive

Clare Martin, Group HR director at Jardine Motors discusses why the automotive industry needs to attract a more digitally savvy generation of female workers and some of the ways to achieve this.

As technological advancements continue to move at a pace, it is no surprise that demand for technologically savvy employees has soared to new heights and this will continue to grow in the forthcoming years.

As an industry at the forefront of customer service and manufacturing, we need to be able to use modern technology to improve the experience we offer to both customers and colleagues.

The UK automotive sector turned over £71.6 billion in 2015 and accounts for 12 per cent of the country’s total research and development investment, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

It is a thriving industry that is innovative and forward-focussed, and it is on the cusp of a great technological leap via the wide scale adoption of digitisation across its manufacturing and retail functions.

With this, comes a staggering increase in demand for a new ‘breed’ of worker; those who may not have previously considered a career in the automotive sector, but who possess the range of transferable skills that the sector is seeking.

Tech direction

This need for technologically savvy individuals is coupled with the issue of promoting greater gender balance in the industry. Currently, just 16 per cent of the industry’s employees are women – a share that must be increased if automotive is to reflect the demographic of its customers. 

As a result, we are actively encouraging women to join the industry, and raising awareness of the fantastic career opportunities available. Indeed, 85 per cent of our female employees said they would recommend working in the industry to a friend. It’s these type of statistics that the industry needs to show to potential employees who may not have previously considered a career in automotive.

There is a perception that careers are very limited, however, the truth is there are lots of fantastic opportunities and routes to go and take and skills are transferrable from a range of other sectors.

For instance, Heather Whittaker, brand manager at Jardine Motors Group Harley Davidson, started her career in the chemicals industry. She then moved to traditional retail where she stayed for 18 years.

When looking for a change in her career, she opted to move to Jardine to become a brand manager. Since starting in 2010 she has made a big impact at the dealership, both in performance and customer satisfaction but she has also increased the number of women in the team to 40 per cent.

More change is on the cards, snd with this, there will be more opportunities for women. The industry must be prepared to attract new employees through initiatives such as flexible hours, working from home and less commission-based pay – a factor which turns off 53 per cent of people from joining the industry.

Driving change

In addition, we need to show change is happening now. For example, later this year we’ll be opening a new dealership where we will be using technology specifically developed to improve customer experience. To make the most of this technology the right training must be offered and candidates attracted to the posts in the first place. 

We know that the interest in working with technology is there. As an industry, we have to show that these skilled workers can carve out a fulfilling career in the sector.

Some 56 per cent of UK workers would not consider working in the automotive sector because ‘they are not interested in cars’.  Individuals don’t have to be interested in cars, they just have to care about giving an amazing customer experience and technology plays such a huge part in this. 

The key to attracting talent will be to show that our industry is progressive, filled with opportunities and the right environment for all to thrive. 

Secondly, we must capture the imagination of those that are considering a career move and prove to them that we can provide a high level of job satisfaction needed for workers passionate about using, maintaining and making the most of tech.

 

About the author

Clare Martin is the group HR director at Jardine Motors Group.

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