In response to a recent blog post, we were challenged to substantiate claims that there was a skills shortage in motorsport. The comment came from someone who had been trying for some years to break into motorsport without any luck. So, what’s the real situation? Are there more jobs in motorsport than applicants or are we just saying that to encourage people to study our degrees? We met up with motorsport recruitment expert Russell Howard to find out what the motorsport jobs market is really like right now.
What has caused the skills shortage in motorsport?
We have lost a lot of skilled candidates over the last few years due to Brexit and the pandemic and some are reluctant to return to the UK due to uncertainty of the future.
What are employers crying out for? Which positions are you struggling to fill ?
Both new and old skills, from wiring harness builders, electronics engineers, designers for 3d printing, simulation, mathematical modellers etc. but also welders and fabricators especially for titanium and inconel. There always seems to be a shortage of experienced CNC programmers and operators. Historic race cars are a challenge to maintain and repair as a lot of the old skills are disappearing. There is a constant demand for experienced race engineers / mechanics, not just in the UK but all over the world.
What can candidates do to improve their skills?
Education and experience go hand in hand, and I am really pleased to see that the NMA now offers individual modules as well as the full degree course. This way candidates can focus on the area of motorsport that interests them and become a specialist in it rather than a generalist for the whole car. Volunteering with local teams or at local circuits is a great way to gain experience, get out there and knock on doors – who dares wins!
Any new skills or trends you’re seeing in motorsport recruitment? Maybe due to EV?
Yes, battery technology is a growth area for sure as is 3D printing in metals and an increase in mathematical modelling.
For people looking to move into motorsport from another sector – which industries are relevant and what would the transferable skills be?
As the majority of roles I recruit for in motorsport are engineering based in one way or another that would be an advantage such as mechanical, electronic, composite, simulation, software, along with the more traditional skills mentioned above.
Do you have 3 top tips for motorsport job seekers?
1) Find the area of motorsport that really appeals to you, trackside or factory? Single seaters or saloon racing? Data or mechanics? Aerodynamics or powertrain? It is much easier to find a job with specific skills / experience / passion rather than having the attitude of ‘I’ll do anything just to work in motorsport” which is not so appealing to the employer.
2) As well as getting the relevant education, put as much effort into gaining hands-on experience whilst you study, you have to make this happen and it will pay dividends when applying for jobs in the future.
3) Keep pushing and don’t get disheartened, getting your first break into motorsport can be difficult but once you are in, the industry will open up in front of you.