A new training centre to give local people the specialist skills needed to work on electric vehicles has opened today at City of Wolverhampton College, thanks to funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
With only one in 20 mechanics in garages and dealerships currently qualified to maintain and repair electric vehicles, the WMCA is funding £250,000 for training at the centre to address this skills gap and help the region achieve its zero-carbon target by 2041.
The aim is for 720 residents to be trained across all levels over 18 months, as the need for skilled electric vehicle mechanics is expected to grow significantly in the run-up to the Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.
The Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Training Centre – the first of its kind in the UK – is also being match-funded by Kia Motors UK and industry training systems company Lucas-Nülle, who are jointly contributing £135,000 worth of electric cars, learning equipment and other training support.
The opening of the centre follows the Government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper published last month, which focuses on the need for high-quality qualifications based on employer-led standards, and for further education colleges to play a leading role in developing skills in their geographical areas by responding to local economic needs.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The green industrial revolution is coming, and I am confident that our region is best placed in the UK to lead it.
“We are already home to the country’s biggest car manufacturer, Europe’s largest research centre, the UK’s only battery industrialisation centre, and a world-leading supply chain – and only last week published our plans to develop a Gigafactory in the region, which would create more than 4,000 new jobs.
“Green technology will also play a vital part in our region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, especially as we know that many people have sadly lost their jobs or are feeling uncertain about their future prospects. We know for example that more than 21,000 jobs could be created in the West Midlands in new green industries across all our economic sectors over the next five years, and 92,000 by 2041.
“It is therefore critical that we get local people the skills they need to take advantage of the jobs on offer in this growing sector, and that’s exactly what the new electric vehicle training centre at City of Wolverhampton College will do.”
All those who complete the training will be supported into work through the Wolves at Work partnership between City of Wolverhampton Council, the Department for Work and Pensions, employers and training and skills providers, as well as via Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service.
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for the economy and innovation, said: “The West Midlands is well established as the heart of the UK automotive sector, but we don’t have enough people qualified to maintain electric vehicles. It’s great to see Wolverhampton leading the way in helping local people to take advantage of the huge opportunities that green technology offers.
“The training centre will enable people to start a new career or upskill and our outstanding Wolves at Work employment programme, with its dedicated work coaches, will be on hand to connect those who qualify with jobs.”
Mal Cowgill, principal of City of Wolverhampton College, said: “With very high voltages involved in electric vehicles, it is essential that all training is delivered safely and with highly skilled and knowledgeable trainers.
“The Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Training Centre will give local people the opportunity to gain the highest recognised qualification in electric vehicle maintenance, giving them job security and a rewarding career.”
Chloe-Ann Price, aged 19, from Wolverhampton, who is keen to start training at the new centre, said: “I’ve really enjoyed studying for my Level 3 Motor Vehicle qualification at City of Wolverhampton College and I’d like to progress to studying electric vehicle technologies as that is the way the future of automotive is going.”
Courses on offer include a Level 1 award in electrical/hybrid vehicle awareness, a Level 2 award in electrical/hybrid vehicle hazard management, a Level 3 award in electrical/hybrid vehicle system repair and replacement, and a Level 4 award in diagnosis, testing and repair of electric/hybrid vehicles and components.
All candidates who complete the training will gain a qualification from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the professional body for people working in the industry.
For more information and to register interest in the new courses, go to www.wolvcoll.ac.uk/electric-vehicle