The year-long project will be officially launched next month (April) by 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 become 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 the industry both BAME and women make up just 6% of the workforce.
The industry target is to increase this figure to 30% by 2030.
Prof Saker, of 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 cause for concern.
“But the issue goes much wider than just 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 going to be fit for purpose for the new, fast-evolving technological revolution, from connected and autonomous to electric, hydrogen and other clean fuel sources.
“There is plenty of evidence to prove that a diverse workplace delivers a better customer experience which, in turn, delivers improved profitability
"The aim of our Taskforce, therefore, is to identify how the sector can become one that will appeal to and nurture a more diverse workforce.
“Automotive is at the forefront of some of 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 career choices as a consequence of the pandemic, that opportunities are offered, whatever their background.”
CEO of the IMI Steve Nash said: “The automotive sector has a huge challenge facing it as we emerge from COVID-19. Namely, the job of ensuring it is future-proofed for emerging automotive technologies.
“And 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.”
The project will call for individuals from within and outside the sector to contribute to any or all of the strands.
Anyone interested in getting involved should email: email@example.com