Every single sector worldwide is being impacted by digital transformation, but few have experienced as much change as the automotive industry. New technologies, new business models, and more informed customers mean that the automotive industry is undergoing huge disruption. To take one example, more customers are choosing electric and hybrid vehicles over traditional gas cars. As a result, the majority of vehicle manufacturers are focusing their R&D efforts on electric cars, leading to a significant change in the vehicles on the market, the services offered, and the training required to manufacture and sell these cars.
 
Businesses that play a significant role in the automotive sector must adapt to new technologies and processes. With that comes a need to educate current and new professionals so they can stay aligned on the industry’s expectations and ahead of their competition to keep the industry moving. So how can automotive organizations and car dealerships ensure that they’re producing the right automotive training for their people?

 

training management system for automotive industry

Digital Disruption in the Automotive Sector 

The rapid rise in popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles has taken the automotive industry by storm. In countries like Norway, electric vehicles comprise the majority of new cars sold – in 2022, almost 80% of cars sold in Norway were electric, and sales more than doubled from 2020-2021 in the United States. What’s more, is that the US government incentivizes the purchasing of an electric or hybrid vehicle by providing a $7500 rebate on select models. By 2030, analysts project the majority of vehicles are expected to be electric and hybrid, with a significant decrease in gas-powered cars. 

On top of this, new vehicles are poised to have more advanced technology that supports better connectivity, with more app-based functions and autonomous driving technology, changing the way we do everything from unlocking to locating to even driving our vehicles. So what does all this change mean for suppliers, sellers, and manufacturers in the automotive industry? 

Cars as we know them are about to get a whole lot more technologically advanced in almost every conceivable way, with the biggest-selling manufacturers leading the charge. A combination of government regulations and energy-efficient consumers have become catalysts in forcing car manufacturers to respond with rapid innovation and production. The ultimate goal of car manufacturers and those working in automotive? To stay relevant with the changing times and not lose a foothold in their market. 

Changes in car technology will bring new challenges to talent across the entire automotive industry including: 

  • Vehicle manufacturers 
  • Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers 
  • Technicians 
  • Automotive dealerships 
  • Customer support staff 

With a rapid change in the production, design, engineering, maintenance, and selling of electric and hybrid vehicles, professionals in the industry will need to continually maintain a current level of knowledge about the functionalities and features of these new-age electrical 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 and 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. 

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.  

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! 

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. 

Interested in finding out how a Training Management System can transform your automotive training program? We’d love to help!

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Training Orchestra – Training Operations Management System

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For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has helped over 600 training companies, corporate L&D departments, and associations worldwide to address instructor-led training operations management challenges for their employee, customer, partner, or member training programs. We’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of corporate L&D and training businesses.

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