Autotech Recruit, operators of the automotive industry’s largest contractor network, has introduced a new pathway for skilled vehicle technicians and MOT testers to test the waters of freelancing within the sector, while retaining the security of full-time employment.
The cuts to National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers, recently outlined in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, could be a catalyst in helping those, considering becoming freelance, make the transition.
Resolve to take the freelance career path may also be strengthened by a recent, Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) report that demand for temporary staff in the last month of Q3 2023 increased for a second consecutive time as businesses continued to invest in short-term workforce.
Despite this optimism, Autotech Recruit is well aware of the inherent reservations many people may believe freelancers face, from the apprehension of income stability to regular work.
In a direct response to alleviate these fears, Autotech Recruit has introduced a unique solution: ATech and ATester. Skilled vehicle technicians and MOT testers who are employed directly by Autotech Recruit, enjoying the benefits of full-time employment while maintaining the freedom to work across various clients just like those within its contractor network.
The company’s extensive network of over 400 skilled contractors has long been the solution to cover resource gaps, whether arising from sick leave, holiday absences, or a shortage of available talent. These contractors, equipped with the latest automotive technology skills, have gained the ability to control their professional destinies while remaining adaptable and employable.
Tackling talent shortages
The automotive industry has been grappling with a skills shortage for years and, while initiatives are underway to upskill existing workers and attract a new generation of vehicle technicians, Autotech Recruit has long believed in the need to re-engage with those who have left the sector.
Many individuals who have joined the company as contractors had previously departed permanent automotive employment for alternative careers, such as working on wind farms or becoming lorry drivers.
Alistair Macdonald, UK and EIRE sales director for Autotech Recruit and Autotech Academy, said: “It is vital that, as the industry talent pool continues to deplete, we connect with the skilled workers who have left the sector to explore alternative careers.
“Many were driven out during the financial crisis and a failure by employers to fulfil training promises, which is vital in our ever evolving industry. We need to create routes back into employment for these individuals.”
Testing the water as a contractor
Autotech Recruit has been plugging the industry’s resource gap since the company’s inception in 2010. Last year alone, its contractor network filled over 350,000 hours for the automotive aftermarket and carried out 150,000 MOTs.
However, demand for temporary resource support from the industry has been outstripping supply for some time, and, while desire for greater flexibility is driving people into contracting, the rising cost of living and mortgage hikes are deterring many from taking the plunge.
Through ATech and ATester, skilled automotive professionals now have the opportunity to ‘try before they buy‘ when it comes to freelancing. This innovative offering provides a safety net for
those looking to embrace the contractor lifestyle, offering them a secure bridge between full-time employment and the flexibility of freelancing.
Autotech Recruit’s first ATech joined the company in early 2023 as a full-time employee, however he has subsequently taken the contractor route after several months with the company.
This transition underscores the compelling financial opportunities that freelancing offers, he said: “I have had a long career within the automotive industry as a vehicle technician. I was aware of Autotech Recruit and joined its contractor network in the year before the pandemic.
“However, Covid, and the subsequent lockdowns, hit the industry hard and I took a permanent position as a service manager.
“I was still keen to pursue the contracting way of life though and, when I heard about the ATech and ATester offering, where I could operate in the same way as a contractor but with the security of being a full-time employee, I felt it was the right solution for me.
“I joined Autotech Recruit as an ATech in February of this year. This made me see the amount of work that is available. The skills shortage is significantly impacting the industry, there’s no getting away from the fact that the situation is bad and needs to be urgently addressed.
“Speaking to other Autotech Recruit contractors I realised that there is no end to the work opportunities and the money, as a contractor, is better, and I would be lying if I said this didn’t influence my decision to leave the security of the ATech role and switch to being a contractor.
“The work/life balance is a huge bonus too and, while it is important that Autotech Recruit is given plenty of notice to manage contracts, a contractor isn’t restricted in the amount of time they take off work.
“Making the switch to becoming a contractor is easy, and it took me less than four hours. I spoke to another contractor, and they offered advice, as did the Autotech Recruit team. It took a call to an accountant and cost me just over £200 to become a sole trader. It couldn’t have been easier.
“I would encourage anyone, particularly those who left the industry during the pandemic to try this route. The industry desperately needs more people and if they are wary of becoming a contractor, especially in a cost-of-living crisis where everyone needs reassurance that they will receive enough money each month to pay the bills, then the ATech route is ideal for dipping their toe in the water before taking the plunge.”