Earlier this year, our U.S. team organised its first female technician training forum at our new Volvo Car South Carolina Technical Center – extending the spirit of our gender diversity commitment to our critical technician population.
The automotive industry is transforming at breakneck speed. As it does, we and our competitors face an incredible challenge recruiting qualified service technicians to keep pace with modern auto repair – which is increasingly focused on computer, hybrid and electric vehicle technology.
Demand for these talents is fierce. And making it even more so? The fact that, today, women comprise just over one per cent of the service technician workforce in the U.S. automotive industry. This poses an enormous diversity problem. It also means that the potential pool of future talent is kneecapped by nearly 50 per cent.
Our U.S. team believes that our future success in technician recruitment and retention hinges on our ability to increase female representation. So they've kicked off several outreach programmes to support this effort. One such example: Volvo Cars' first female technician training forum, hosted at our new Volvo Car South Carolina Technical Center. This pilot event convened six female technicians for an intensive hands-on training and certification programme for battery electric vehicle repair. The course focused on rolling out technical skills. It was also an opportunity to connect these female technicians with the aim of fostering comradery, knowledge-sharing and a bridge between individuals with shared experiences and challenges.
The culmination of this event was a leadership forum that brought together executives and technicians from across Volvo Cars to share their experiences as women in the automotive industry.
What we heard back from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with technicians expressing that they felt motivated, seen and emboldened by these new connections.
"Nothing can hold me back," proclaimed one attendee. "I am not simply doing maintenance work – I can do so much more. I have a network of women to help me."
Even more important, the women expressed a desire to pass along their knowledge and experience to attract more women to our industry.
With women representing only a tiny fraction of technicians in the U.S. network, this event was an important step forward in our commitment to gender equality and addressing our national demand for qualified technicians to service our vehicles as we charge forward in our transformation.