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Halfords has announced a big drive to get more older workers and women into its automotive technician roles.
Halfords is creating 1,000 new automotive technician roles over the next years and is prioritising attracting retirees back into the workforce and more women.
The motoring specialist says the new roles respond to increasing demand for vehicle servicing, MOTs, maintenance and repairs.
Graham Stapleton, Halfords CEO, said: “We have a big focus on people who left the workforce in recent years but are now starting to return in these tough economic times. We want to give people the best possible route to return to work. Becoming a qualified automotive technician can be an incredibly satisfying second career.”
Halfords is developing what it calls its Retyrement Plan to make returning to work attractive. The plan includes greater flexibility, including part-time working, and – in what is believed to be an industry first – opportunities for older people to complete apprenticeships. The company is also establishing a training academy focused on acquiring the digital skills required for the automotive technician role.
Halfords is also keen to encourage women and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the industry. It has formed partnerships with two charities dedicated to getting young people into motor apprenticeships – The Palmer Foundation and First Step Trust.
“We need to be ambitious and creative in the way we go about meeting the demand for technicians,” said Graham Stapleton. “I want us to be doing more to attract ex-offenders and people leaving the military, for example”. Halfords already has a bike technician training academy at Drake Hall women’s prison in Staffordshire.
Halfords’ announcement comes as airline easyJet launches a recruitment drive for people over 45 to join its cabin crew. The campaign is targeted at ’empty nesters’, whose children have grown up and who want a new career. It says it has seen a 27% rise in crew aged 45 and over in the past four years and a 30% increase in over-60s in the past year.
A survey by easyJet shows more than 78% of over 45s said they would like a new challenge once their children leave home.
Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions says it is doing a big push on older workers at job fairs around the country as part of National Older Workers Week.