The UK's automotive industry is entering one of its most challenging periods as a result of the market unpredictability caused by Brexit.
But before we proclaim that years of success – during which there have been record sales in recent times – will be superseded by doom, we should acknowledge that this also presents talented individuals and quick-thinking organisations with a remarkable opportunity.
Britain is renowned all over the world for its talented automotive workforce, and no greater time is there for the very brightest to shine than now, when Britain needs its strongest to ensure the ride from here on is as smooth as possible.
Across the whole industry – in engineering, where the UK industry has long demanded far more employees than the country can supply, marketing, sales and much more – decision makers will have their work cut out to secure confidence in investors and customers. They'll also need to be as sharp as ever in order to ensure brands currently based here don't jump ship and head for the Continent – as several have already threatened to do.
Sadly, under-investment in apprenticeships and training, as well as a reputation tarnished by the collapse of the British car industry, hasn't helped things, and has left the industry short of the staff it needs to fight this battle.
It’s noteworthy that the engineering deficit isn’t helped by the fact that around a third of all graduates get sucked into the banking and financial services industry, attracted by the salaries and opportunities, and appealing to their employers with their methodical ways of working.
How can that change? No question, it’s a long job, but promotion of giant financial figures and technological gains is one, as is telling the story of what a rewarding career is available by stepping into the automotive world. Children need to know what’s available so they can aspire to (and study for) the opportunity.
Finally, if you’ll excuse the self-promotion, it’s worth highlighting the Autocar Courland Next Generation Award. It is set up specifically to address exactly this problem by promoting the best bright talents with ideas that excite the leading industry people who are the award's judges. Ideas have previously come from wannabe designers, engineers, marketing executives and more.
The award is backed by Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Horiba MIRA, all of whom offer work experience to the winner. To date, it has launched not just the winners but also many of the finalists into careers in the industry, with Audi, McLaren and Jaguar, among others.