Van rental giant Northgate has committed to a major EV skills training programme to ensure its technicians and non-technical staff are ready for the ‘electric revolution’.
The business is to provide extra EV training to more than 1,500 employees – said to be one of the biggest and most advanced training programmes within the commercial van industry.
The training for technicians will help to buck a national skills shortage within EVs; analysis by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) at the end of 2020 suggested that just 5% of the technicians working in garages and dealerships are appropriately qualified to work on these vehicles.
To help address this, by the end of March, at least one technician from all 52 of Northgate’s workshops will have completed an IMI Level 3 TechSafe EV course. The course exceeds the mandatory national training requirement and covers the principles and benefits of EVs, as well as an assessment of technicians’ skills in safely powering down vehicles. A further 300 technicians, workshop managers and controllers from Northgate will complete the course over the next 12 months.
A suite of online EV awareness modules, equivalent to IMI level 1, will also be rolled out to around 1,400 non-technical staff across the business, helping Northgate employees when it comes to providing EV advice and service to customers.
Northgate is also working in partnership with manufacturers to deliver additional apprenticeships, which include training on EVs.
In parallel, Northgate said it’s acquiring a “significant number of EVs”, which are available for hire to help businesses make the switch to EVs, while maintaining the cash flow benefits of rental. Steve Coble, UK head of workshop operations, added that customers opting for EVs will also receive expert advice and practical support on charging infrastructure needs and power supply options, as part of a totally integrated mobility approach.
Commenting on Northgate’s training announcement, the IMI said it made “made no secret of our concern that EV training has not been prioritised to date”, and added that Northgate’s work should “send a strong signal to the automotive sector as a whole that now is the time to get their workforce EV-ready”.
Steve Scofield, head of business development, continued: “Playing such a crucial role in supporting the fleet sector and the wider business community of van users, the company is showing real leadership in being ready for the electric revolution and, based on the numbers it is training, is currently one of the biggest adopters of IMI TechSafe EV training in the LCV sector.”