Robot workers spark electronics skills drive

The growing use of robots in car making is increasing demand for automotive engineers with electronics skills. While many in industry may have hoped robots would reduce the impact of skill shortages in manufacturing, Lyndsay Davies, national accounts manager at Henry Court, Honda’s managing recruitment agents, said the growth of automation technology has actually increased […]

The growing use of robots in car making is increasing demand for automotive engineers with electronics skills. While many in industry may have hoped robots would reduce the impact of skill shortages in manufacturing, Lyndsay Davies, national accounts manager at Henry Court, Honda’s managing recruitment agents, said the growth of automation technology has actually increased the need for electronics specialists.

‘The technology used in car making has changed, and Honda now use a lot of robots, so they need people with electronics skills,’ she said.

Honda is looking for around 40 engineers, including maintenance, analysis, trim and technical purchasing specialists, but all must have an ‘electronic bias’. The company is also hoping to recruit an emissions engineer, but according to Davies there are very few of these specialists in the UK, making competition with other car makers tough. ‘There are probably only around 10 emissions engineers in the country, so they’re very hard to find.’

Although Honda has developed a reputation as a good employer, the car maker is having to compete with prestigious names such as Jaguar and BMW for a share of the UK’s limited engineering resources, she said.

‘Engineers are not easy to find, there are a lot of companies out looking for them, especially the big automotive firms like BMW, Ford and Jaguar.’

Job losses at Corus in South Wales meant Honda had been inundated with CVs earlier in the year, but the majority of these were from engineers with a mechanical background, rather than electronics skills.

Engineers trained through apprenticeships in the past also developed mechanical skills, increasing the shortage of electronics specialists. The company is now training all its apprentices in electronics.

Henry Court acts as a managing agent for Honda’s national recruitment drive, and has 10 agencies working on its behalf.

Honda has recently begun production at its new plant in Swindon. The £130m site, the first new plant to be built in the UK since Toyota opened its factory near Derby in 1993, will increase Honda’s annual production to 250,000 cars by 2002.