The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) is warning automotive businesses that more needs to be done to introduce women into the industry. With the number of women drivers set to outnumber men, the UK professional body for the motor industry is urging automotive companies to employ more women or risk losing business.
A survey conducted in the UK by the IMI revealed that 96 percent of women drivers want to see more women in car workshops and nearly 40 percent of drivers said they did not notice any women working in the workshops they visited.
The survey also showed that 31 percent of women are averse to bringing their car in for servicing and many commented that they did not know what they were being charged for nor how to challenge a vehicle service bill they felt was wrong. Their reluctance to engage directly with car workshops and automotive personnel stem from the fear of not being able to understand technical jargon and the possibility of being ripped off. When it came to choosing a service center in an emergency, most said they simply went to the one nearest and hoped for the best.
Matthew Stuart, Senior Manager of IMI South-East Asia said, “This phenomenon is not unique in the UK but in every part of the world. As the number of women drivers increase, it is important that automotive companies understand this development and have in place the right people and methods to effectively engage this growing customer base.”
He added that the existing workforce in the automotive industry is primarily male-dominated and that in order for automotive companies to make the car servicing experience more female-friendly, they need to encourage more women to be trained and employed in this sector.
“We are seeing an increasing number women being trained by our approved centers as they work towards increasing the ratio of female workers in their company and in the industry and this is not just for the customer service or sales roles. Women are now also undertaking technician training in some centers”, said Stuart.
Prasanna Vanugopal, General Manager of Tekat Automotive Academy (also known as Auto Terminal Training Sdn Bhd) acknowledged there is a general misconception that technician training are more meant for men, which explains the heavy gender imbalance in the academy’s student base. The Academy has more than 500 students and since 2005, has certified 787 candidates with IMI’s international automotive qualifications.
“However in recent years, we are seeing a gradual mindset change and more young women are showing keen interest in automotive training. We hope to see more women seek automotive training and qualifications and use it to widen their career choices. They need to realize they have a vital role to play in meeting the needs in the automotive sector”, added Vanugopal.
The IMI offers over 300 technical and non-technical qualifications and accreditations across 600 training partners in more than 13 countries around the world. In Malaysia, an average of 1,500 candidates are trained per year at partnering community colleges, automotive companies and education bodies.