Hire firm Northgate tackles EV skills shortage

Vehicle hire firm Northgate has announced a large-scale training programme for EVs within the commercial van sector.

The company, which is one of the biggest van rental firms in the UK, now provides additional EV training to more than 1,500 employees with the aim to maximise safety and assist customers in choosing EV and traditional vehicles for their business fleet requirements.

The firm offers technician training to Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Level 3 TechSafe EV levels, offering 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. Additionally, Northgate’s Online Learning and Development Academy is launching an suite of online EV awareness modules, equivalent to IMI level 1, aimed at around 1,400 non-technical staff across the business.

The company also works in partnership with manufacturers to deliver additional apprenticeships, which includes training on EVs. Trainee vehicle technicians complete a 30-month programme with practical training at Northgate’s workshops – and academic study with a local college.

Steve Scofield, Head of Business Development at the IMI said: “It is tremendously exciting to see that Northgate is making such a serious commitment to the EV training of its people.

“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 TechSafeTM EV training in the LCV sector.”

“The IMI has made no secret of our concern that EV training has not been prioritised to date; analysis 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.

“The scale of the Northgate commitment should, therefore, send a strong signal to the automotive sector as a whole that now is the time to get their workforce EV-ready.”

Steve Coble, UK Head of Workshop Operations, added: “As the UK’s largest B2B LCV rental provider,  Northgate recognises that customers are under pressure to support a zero carbon economy.

“The capex cost of EVs is often higher than ICE equivalents, and there is a shortage in supply. That’s why we’re  acquiring a significant number of EVs, which are available for hire – enabling interested customers to make the switch, while maintaining cash flow through renting, not buying.

“However, we recognise that simply providing electric vehicles to customers isn’t enough, so we’re now playing a key role in tackling a skills shortage within the EV industry.

“We’re proud to be providing significant training on EVs – above mandatory standards. Customers will receive expert advice and practical support on charging infrastructure needs, and power supply options, and we’ll provide all the necessary support via our own people and resources.

“In addition, we’re introducing new infrastructure and tooling, servicing for EVs as well as OEH models, and flexible rental packages on all vehicles.

“This totally integrated mobility approach offers a real benefit to van users in such a new and potentially costly area of development.

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