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The automotive sector is continuing to move onwards and upwards as consumer confidence and demand grows.

During 2014, the number of new cars registered in the UK reached a ten-year high. Close to 2.5 million cars were registered during this time, which is the most since 2004 and the fourth highest number of all time. Only the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 saw more cars registered.

This is according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which says that overall the market grew by 9.3 per cent during 2014. That’s ahead of the average of 5.7 per cent measured across the European Union.

With 34 consecutive months of growth in new car sales having been registered during December, it can be expected that this pattern will continue into 2015.

This is because, with the economy having improved, consumers are keener to spend on a new car model or to even buy an alternatively fuelled vehicle.

Chief executive of SMMT Mike Hawes said: “UK new car registrations returned to pre-recession levels in 2014, as pent-up demand from the recession years combined with confidence in the economy saw consumer demand for the latest models grow consistently and strongly.”

With these figures in mind and growth in the sector likely to continue, hopefully this will translate into jobs, both for permanent employees and also for contractors and freelancers.

John McAuley, MD at Edison Technical, comments “The UK automotive sector has gone from strength-to-strength in the last 12 months, and looks to continue for a long time to come.  Key UK OEMs – such as Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley, and Aston Martin – have several new vehicles due to launch in 2015, which has increased the already high demand for skilled engineering staff in this country.  We have seen an unprecedented demand for engineers in the last 6 months, especially for highly-qualified technical engineering personnel; the rise in vehicle technology has only added to these pressures, as areas such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Connected Car technology and suchlike all lead us towards the self-driving car.  It’s a great time to be an automotive engineer!”

Supporting McAuley’s view, Debbie Foster, MD at Select Engineering states that “The increase of sales has resulted in the market becoming candidate driven’ however ‘this means that there is a shortage of qualified automotive engineers and skills scarcity.  As a specialised Automotive Recruitment Agency, we see moving forward, that the challenges are going to be to continue to be able to resource quality Candidates with the relevant experience and progressive talents in order to support the sophisticated motor car of the future.  It is an exciting and driven environment and more investment is going to be needed in developing our own UK Talent as well as seeking candidates from abroad.”

It isn’t just traditional petrol and diesel cars that are proving popular either as sales of electric cars are on the increase.

The number of ‘plug-in’ cars sold in the UK in 2013 was 3,586. In 2014, this figure quadrupled to 14,498.

Mr Hawes said that the reason for this is that there are more alternatively fuelled cars coming out and he suspects that this part of the new car market will continue to see growth during 2015.

He said: “The year was particularly strong for alternatively-fuelled vehicles as increased choice, coupled with a growing desire for reduced costs and greater efficiency, resulted in a quadrupling of plug-in car registrations over 2013. With a variety of new plug-in models expected in 2015, this area of the market will continue to grow significantly.”

Over the course of 2015 he suspects that demand will begin to level off for the automotive market as a whole and so growth the sector will be more stable.

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