Loughborough professor tasked with tackling BAME and gender issues in the UK motor industry

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

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: ceooffice@theimi.org.uk


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/44

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

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