Sector continues to hail “tremendously welcome news” on lockdown easing as Scottish car dealers edge ahead

Published:  23 February, 2021

UK automotive continued to react to the new roadmap out of lockdown, with Scottish car-dealers finding themselves slightly ahead of the reopening curve.

Commenting on the government’s planned four-stage plan, which sees educational institutions at the front of the reopening queue on Monday 8 March IMI CEO Steve Nash said: “It is welcome news that education, quite rightly, is given priority in being the first part of society to come out of lockdown and we believe this will be tremendously welcome news for the Further Education colleges and other approved training centres that support automotive apprenticeships.

“The sector has seen apprenticeship starts drop massively in the last 12 months. The first quarter of the 2020/21 academic year saw a 63% drop compared to the same period for 2019/20. And whilst it is inevitable that some employers may be pausing their recruitment plans, including bringing on new apprentices, we also believe the restrictions on education have been a deterrent for those considering an apprenticeship in automotive where so much of the learning needs to be hands-on.

Steve added: “The last year has seen a tremendous shift to e-learning, which the IMI has supported with numerous online modules but we know that FE colleges and other IMI approved training centres are desperate to get students back into the live classroom. They know how to do this safely and with the right level of hygiene procedures and social distancing so we really hope that 8 March will see doors reopening and a new level of engagement from potential students.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has confirmed customers can access showrooms to conclude the purchase of a vehicle.

“Following our requests, it is extremely positive that the Scottish government has confirmed that amendments to the current operation of click and collect for dealerships in Scotland mean that accessing the showroom to conclude the purchasing of the vehicle would be permissible using an appointment system”, said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the NFDA.

A letter received by Sue Robinson from the Scottish Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP, confirmed that “accessing the showroom to conclude the purchasing of the vehicle would be permissible at this time using an appointment system to manage customer numbers to as few in the showroom at any given time - ideally only one customer at a time - and with the usual caveat that face coverings should be worn and physical distancing maintained.”

Sue Robinson concluded: “We thank the Minister for considering our suggestions and enabling dealers to better serve their customers. Our members continue to work incredibly hard to follow COVID-secure guidelines and ensure that staff and customers are kept safe.”

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