11th October 2023
South Devon College is celebrating the Association of College’s ‘Colleges Week’, which is in its sixth annual year, to showcase the breadth of activities available in colleges and the ways in which they transform lives and communities.
Here at the college, we’d like to champion Colleges Week ‘Green Skills Day’ by promoting one of our newer provisions, that will enable our students to join a growing workforce within the green technology sector.
South Devon College is an educational institution that has set its sights firmly on sustainability and keeping on track with developments and progression in both industry and technology. In recognition of this, the college’s Automotive department is training its students in electric vehicle (EV) technology, to boost the EV workforce, whilst inspiring learners to move towards a cleaner, greener future.
These future-proofing courses align with the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, in which it’s aiming for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The college offers two courses on EV technology – a Level 1 Award in EV/HEV Awareness, and a Level 3 Award in EV/HEV System Repair and Replacement, which is already fully booked for this year. Completion of the Level 3 qualification can lead towards recognition on the IMI TechSafe register.
All students that have completed the Level 3 EV training at the College have completed prior training relating to Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair and all work within the automotive industry.
The course primarily attracts adult technicians working in industry who are upskilling and carrying out Continuing Professional Development (CPD), as the entry requirements specify knowledge of vehicle maintenance and repair and knowledge of electrical fundamentals.
All staff from the automotive department have undertaken CPD to obtain a minimum of Level 3 qualifications in EV/HEV, to keep up to date with the new curriculum – staff members have great expertise in the area, and a Level 3 lecturer joined the team recently having worked within the EV industry.
The college has invested in a range of vehicles for the course, including a VW Golf GTE, a Honda Civic Hybrid, and three Nissan Leafs. The students also have access to specialist diagnostic equipment and all required safety equipment.
The well-equipped automotive workshop for EV / HEV training
The purchase of the EV training delivery resources was made possible by funding from the Government’s Strategic Development Fund, which was introduced to help FE providers respond to skills needs.
The automotive department was visited by representatives from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) last year, who granted the College authorisation to deliver and assess the courses.
According to Government data, as of the end of August 2023, there were more than 1,385,000 plug-in cars, with around 850,000 battery-electric vehicles and 530,000 PHEVs registered.
As the independent repair sector is now coming into increasing levels of contact with EV and HEV, there is an obvious training need both locally and nationally.
A former student of the College’s Level 3 course said: “Since completing the EV training, I feel better prepared to work safely on the electric and hybrid vehicles that are coming into our garage.”
To keep apace with this growing demand for skilled technicians, the college has expansion plans in place, which will include a dedicated workspace (EV diagnostic workshop) to deliver Level 4-related qualifications, together with an increased frequency of delivery dates for the courses. This will allow local employers to tackle all aspects of diagnosis and repair activities.
A report from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) highlighted that the automotive sector is currently facing its biggest skills challenge in the past two decades. Within the UK automotive sector, the subsector Manufacture of Electrical and Electronic Equipment for Motor Vehicles has seen a 38% increase in jobs over the past 10 years, yet the IMI predicts that by 2030, 103,000 TechSafe qualified technicians will be required to work with electric vehicles.
Kirk Burrows, Programme Coordinator for Automotive at the College, said: “As Electric Vehicles (EV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) become increasingly common on our roads, the knowledge and skills of the workforce within the vehicle maintenance and repair network need to evolve.
“Experienced technicians will need to upskill and update knowledge whilst new technicians entering the sector will be introduced to a career in a field that is undergoing a significant transition. As some might say, exciting times!”