In this post:

The automotive industry has shifted gears in a new direction. Within the past three decades, manufacturers have transformed the different stages of a vehicle: conceptual design, production, assembly, and distribution. While expected, the changes have come in fast and key players in automotive are expected to react faster. New changes throughout the vehicle’s “lifecycle” have prompted a need to train professionals of all trades working in automotive.

The issue however is that the processes involved in training personnel aren’t as efficient as the now typical hybrid vehicle. Whether training is provided by the OEM or at your local dealership, ensuring the highest quality training is critical to maintaining brand value and staying on top of competitors. The issue however is that with multiple locations, products, and services falling under one automotive brand’s umbrella, it can become complex to organize quality training sessions.

Planning and scheduling instructor-led training, online or in-person, is usually done using a disjointed combination of trainer calendars, endless spreadsheets, and the in-house CRM. In the post, we’ll examine how automotive companies can implement a training management system to schedule face-to-face training sessions for employees and partners more efficiently. We’ll also cover how the TMS can play a larger role in organizing and improving automotive training programs and training protocols. 

training management system automotive

Continual Disruption in the Automotive Sector

Cars, car buyers, and the very nature of the automotive industry itself change frequently. The trends are very much a story of two trends between what the car buyer needs and what car manufacturers can respond to given their ability. Among stakeholders in the automobile industry, staying on top of trends is a matter of identifying both car buyer and car manufacturer trends.

Car buyer trends: 

Vehicle manufacturing trends:

  • One 2014 study by Automotive News noted that vehicle recalls accounted for nearly $7.2 billion in damages to manufacturers which have reduced faith in OEM quality assurance processes among consumers.
  • Despite the need for cars to commute to and from work, consumers may shift to micro-mobility methods to get around cities or even the suburbs. According to the US Department of Energy, 1.1 million electric bikes were sold in 2023. Adapting daily commutes has long been a primary incentive for manufacturers to create more affordable electric vehicles despite EV procurement issues
  • Over $210 billion was invested in electric vehicle manufacturing related to the production of electric vehicles.
  • According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electric vehicles accounted for 10% of new car sales by 2025 and are expected to be 58% of new car sales by 2025
  • Car manufacturers retire models every year due to a combination of poor sales, complex maintenance, and consumer frustrations. Car and Driver’s annual “obituary” post of retired models highlights the flaws of each deceased vehicle. 2023 had 23 vehicles cut from production lines while 2024 had 28 models halted. This leaves more room for car manufacturers to plan new models with new technical features. (PS: Check back here for the 2025 list).

Advancements in-car features and technology along with the combination of car buyer needs & wants will bring new challenges to the professionals working in the automotive industry including: 

  • Manufacturing Staff
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers
  • Technicians and Mechanics
  • Sales and marketing managers
  • Customer support staff

With a rapid change in the design, engineering, production, maintenance, and selling of vehicles, professionals in the industry will need to continually maintain up-to-date knowledge about the functionalities and features of their brand’s vehicles.

The Importance of Increasing Learning and Development in the Automotive Sector

Between car manufacturers, suppliers, customers, technicians, and car dealerships, it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to be done to give everyone the knowledge and skills they need to thrive as the automotive industry changes. Every single stage of the automotive journey — from initial design concepts to sourcing more sustainable materials, to assembly,  to testing safety & QA, to marketing the vehicle — will become significantly different than it was 10 years ago. The rapid shift concepts invite a whole new set of training challenges for anyone who services the car manufacturers’ product, from training internal employees at the plant to educating body shops and supplies in the car manufacturer’s extended enterprise.

Why is investing in L&D for automotive professionals more important than ever before? When it comes to car shopping, consumers are more informed than ever before with a wealth of information available to them. From third-party vehicle review sites to the ease of accessibility to information on their phones, automotive professionals will need to cater to the needs and wants of their growing customer base. Listening to the customer’s expectations in a new electric and hybrid vehicle will mean continually learning and adapting the product to meet desired specifications. In effect, this will mean employees will need both upskilling and reskilling to ensure that their talents align with what’s expected of them currently and moving forward.

What Automotive Training Programs are Needed?

With the overall shift from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, continued learning and development will change significantly to accommodate the new technologies, buying and selling models, and maintenance.

Looking to the future, each layer of the automotive industry will additions and changes to their training programs. 

training management automotive

Changes to Automotive Training Programs

Training for automotive programs will be going into new gear when EV manufacturing increases.

Here’s what we expect training to include as the car-buying market changes.

  • Vehicle Manufacturers
    • Vehicle functionality and performance
    • Automotive technologies (i.e Lane-departure warning, hands-free driving, forward collision warning, etc)
    • Safety, compliance, and quality assurance protocols
    • Marketing guidelines
  • OEM suppliers
    • Software and dashboards for vehicles
    • EV batteries and semi-conductor application and maintenance
    • Maintaining the automotive industry’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and ISO standardization
  • Technicians
    • Changes to OEM-approved technical training programs
    • Motor, battery, and software familiarity
    • Troubleshooting software and other vehicle technology included
  • Automotive dealerships
    • Understanding the capabilities of the vehicle before advertising and promotion
    • Benefits provided by the manufacturer
    • Provision of OEM-approved technician training to maintenance staff
    • Salesperson training and engagement
    • Just-in-time performance support available on the dealership floor

Assuming these are the key training focuses for the people involved in the automotive industry, we might expect that:

  • Customers spend more time than ever researching their potential vehicle of choice before they even visit a dealership, or even researching information while they’re in the dealership talking to a salesperson
  • Car manufacturers consistently research the latest additions to their models based on consumer expectations and competitor benchmarks
  • Certified technicians in both car dealerships and local shops must continually learn the features of new technology applied to cars – both for the physical parts and the newer, digitally enhanced, and integrated functionality
  • Car dealerships themselves must also understand new ways to market to consumers in their local market as well as understand better ways to negotiate
  • Professionals working in the automotive industry will need regular upskilling to stay on top of the immense change that the car industry brings

A major challenge for automotive training today is the lack of proper organization when it comes to initiating, maintaining, and tracking training programs. This leads to a lot of inconsistency and variable standards across the sector, which can quickly lead to distrust between the different roles, particularly for customers who want reliable, consistent information and service.

eBook: Top 20 Training Management System Features: The Complete Checklist

A comprehensive list of all training management features that every training organization needs to effectively manage ILT and vILT.

Download eBook

The Nature of Training Management in the Auto Industry

Unsurprisingly, the automotive sector is subject to hundreds, if not thousands, of different processes. Whether it’s maintaining an efficient assembly line or undergoing rigorous safety testing, every single step of the vehicle manufacturing, selling, and maintenance journey requires expertly designed processes that must be adhered to ensure the best quality product.

Why is training such a low priority in the world of automotive?

For vehicle manufacturers, HR and L&D departments have typically been severely underutilized when it comes to providing training. Most manufacturers have no training department at all or have had small to no learning operations available to cater to their employees’ needs.

Learning industry reports for 2023 unanimously agreed that the need to reskill and upskill employees would be a foremost priority for all industries. For the world of automotive and its changing products, they’ve hit the bull’s eye in meeting this requirement. New roles in automotive will be more critical for car manufacturing in 2023 and beyond simply because the vehicles themselves demand it. From electrical engineers and material scientists to industrial designers and mechanical drafters. The entire industry will need to employ a whole new batch of talent while at the same time educating their seasoned staff on new processes going into the product.

Planning and organizing training programs from the top down is already a major challenge for management at all levels across automotive manufacturing and the manufacturer’s extended network. It’s not an easy task, but any good automotive firm understands the importance of getting the right training in place to maintain high standards and safety across the industry.

However, the fact that L&D has typically been so under-resourced and underutilized adds an extra layer of complexity to the problem. Before creating and rolling out new automotive training programs, companies must first build the right foundations in their L&D and HR departments. This means hiring the right teams, creating suitable frameworks, and equipping staff with the skills they need to design and implement future-proof training that meets the needs of today’s manufacturers, salespeople, and customers.

On top of this, automotive companies must also review their software capabilities. If training has typically been neglected or not a priority, likely, your software won’t be up to scratch. Many automotive companies will still be reliant on complex systems of spreadsheets to manage training, instructors, and resources – if this sounds like you, it’s time for an upgrade!

managing learning and development for automotive industry

Why the Training Development Framework is Stalled for the Automotive Industry

While most automotive organizations use a Learning Management System (LMS) or learning platform to some extent, they’re rarely used to their full potential. For instance, they may be used in automotive training centers to certify technicians or to support the sales team, but they often don’t go beyond this.

And when it comes to deploying the training itself, there’s a big difference between simple eLearning and more comprehensive Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT). Managing live training programs, such as operating new machinery or learning to work safely on the assembly line, is often complex, especially for large automotive organizations requiring hundreds of sessions locally, nationally, and even globally.

For HR and L&D teams to achieve their training goals (and maintain quality standards and safety), they must implement the right framework as supported by their management teams. On top of this, they also need the right software to sufficiently manage training according to the unique requirements of the company and its learners.

Training Management Solutions for the Automotive Industry

How can training managers and L&D specialists in the automotive industry better manage their training programs?

For any automotive company with a complex training program, comprising ILT, vILT, and hybrid training, a Training Management System (TMS) will almost always be the best solution. A TMS replaces all your spreadsheets and automates many of the processes that go into scheduling live training, as well as tracking budgets, utilization rates, and attendance.

If you already have an LMS, the good news is that a TMS works in tandem with the LMS. The LMS is used for eLearning and to store useful resources, while the TMS is used exclusively to manage and schedule ILT and vILT. This includes everything from attendees to instructors to rooms to equipment, ensuring the HR and L&D teams have everything they need to schedule complex training at their fingertips.

Just some of how automotive companies can benefit from a TMS include:

  • Training course scheduling
    Choosing a TMS like Training Orchestra means your automotive company can organize training with intuitive, color-coded drag-and-drop functionality. It’s easy to schedule multiple sessions at once with a training course scheduling system, along with rescheduling if things change.
  • Resource management
    Scheduling training is about more than simply finding the right date and time. It’s also about allocating the right space with the right capacity (or the most suitable online conferencing tool), the necessary training equipment, any audio-visual equipment, and anything else needed to ensure the sessions run smoothly.
  • Instructor management portal
    Instructors are vital for any ILT or vILT training session, and a TMS is the best way to find a suitable instructor for each session. For instance, with Training Orchestra’s instructor management portal, you can filter by language spoken, location, subject matter expertise, availability, and more.
  • Budget and cost-tracking tools
    Of course, we can’t talk about training without talking about the all-important budget! Your TMS should support the ability to manage your budget, ensuring you’re not overspending and are staying right on track. You can also see which sessions are costing the most, and if you charge for any of your training sessions, which are bringing in the most money, allowing you to analyze the profitability of your training offering.
  • Reporting and analytics
    One of the most important things about any training software is the ability to pull reports and analyze your training activity. With Training Orchestra’s TMS, you can see at a glance how your sessions are performing, how many people are attending, how instructor time is being utilized, which locations are the most engaged in training, and more. With such rich data, you can then make smarter, better-informed decisions about your training offering going forward.

How to Use a TMS for Automotive Training Programs

One of the best things about using a TMS for automotive training (and there are lots!) is that it works brilliantly for every aspect of training across the industry. For instance:

  • Certified OEM technical training programs
    • Automotive OEM technicians need to complete certifications to prove that they have the correct training and experience to work in the industry. A TMS is the perfect way to schedule compliance training and navigate a complex array of training sessions.
  • Advanced sales training for dealerships
    • Salespeople are highly motivated to sell more vehicles – that commission won’t earn itself! That’s why getting them enrolled in sales training programs is a good way to improve their knowledge levels and boost sales of new vehicles. With the right car dealership training software, your sales enablement training can take place locally, in person, or online if your dealerships are more geographically dispersed.
  • Research and development for vehicle manufacturers
    • As the automotive industry continues to evolve, R&D is only going to become more important. Vehicle manufacturers will need to stay on top of the latest techniques, materials, and technologies, and ILT and vILT are highly effective ways to deliver the new skills and information required.
  • Repair and maintenance technicians
    • With electric and hybrid vehicles flooding the market, repair and maintenance technicians will need to understand how the new wave of cars works. Whether it’s fixing problems, locating the right parts, or conducting regular safety checks, a TMS makes it much easier to organize large numbers of training sessions for these repair technicians, no matter where they’re based.

Your back-office training staff can use your TMS in conjunction with your LMS and LXP to manage your entire automotive training offering, from hands-on workshops to on-site assembly line training to eLearning courses to just-in-time performance support available on the dealership floor. Enhancing your tech stack with a TMS will significantly improve the way you manage and deliver ILT and vILT, leading to better learner experiences and, ultimately, better results for your business.

Watch a quick 3-minute demo

View Training Orchestra in Action

Watch a quick 3-minute demo video.

View our TMS in action