NORTHGATE is taking on the national skills shortage within electric vehicles by delivering one of the biggest and most advanced training programmes within the commercial van industry.

The company is providing additional EV training to more than 1,500 of its people. The aim is to maximise safety and help customers choose the best mix of EV and traditional vehicles to meet their business needs:

  • Technician training – By the end of March, at least one technician from all 52 of Northgate’s workshops will have completed an Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Level 3 TechSafeTM EV course, which exceeds the mandatory national training requirement. The course 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.
  • Online training – In parallel, Northgate’s Online Learning and Development Academy is launching an suite of online EV awareness modul es, equivalent to IMI level 1, aimed at around 1,400 non-technical staff across the business. The aim is to support colleagues in providing the best advice, service and understanding to customers.
  • Apprenticeships – Northgate is also working in partnership with manufacturers to deliver additional apprenticeships, which include 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.

It comes as the Institute of the Motor Industry warns that a skills shortage within EVs threatens progress on the government’s Green Plan.

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 at Northgate, 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.