News : Jobs surge highlights skills shortage in classic sector

A recruitment drive by auction and classifieds site Car & Classic highlights the breadth of new skills needed in the classic sector. Roles are being created in areas that aren’t just in workshops – but they span marketing, finance, legal, sales and creative skills for a sector that continues to grow. According to the FBHVC’s latest report (2020), the spend on historic vehicles has increased by more than 30% – from £5.5bn to £7.2bn – in the last five years.

The online marketplace has grown significantly over the past three years. A recent discussion between the Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) in the UK and its French contacts in the same sector found that the average age of owners and enthusiasts is getting younger – it has reduced from 58 to 54, due to the adoption of classic cars by younger generations.

‘We have reported an increase in interest from school leavers and newly-graduated people entering the industry,’ says Merlin McCormack of classic car dealer Duke of London. ‘It is rewarding to see fresh blood being injected in a segment traditionally concerned with finding new generations to pass existing knowledge to.’

Duke of London merges traditional Classic Car services like Sales, Service and Restoration with a thriving social media community and a creative hub where influencers, events and creatives come together. It is a field in which young people move comfortably, bringing a traditional business to modern platforms.

Merlin and his team demonstrate how the classic car industry is changing: on-site events like Classics & Cake and off-site events like Duke’s Hillclimb, held at Shelsley Walsh, show that passion for classic motoring is still alive and well, and being brought forward into the modern age via Instagram and other social media.

These are feelings shared by HCVA Founding Partner and Pendine  CEO James Mitchell: ‘We have an enthusiastic young team that is learning daily more about each of the magnificent vehicles we buy and sell on behalf of our customers and is a real asset to the sector, the vehicles and customers and our business.’

Emma Crickmay of Frank Dale & Stepsons, one of HCVA’s Founding Partners, could not have put it better:It is absolutely vital we take steps to preserve jobs and encourage new generations into pursuing fulfilling careers in our industry. It is so important that conditions are created that allow us to develop training programmes, support skills transfer and boost diversity. We are very keen to see a boost in apprenticeships – it’s investment in the future.’

A recent survey by the HERO-ERA organisation estimates that the turnover of the whole classic and historic vehicle sector is over £18bn and supports 113,000 jobs. This constitutes about a fifth of the size of the whole heritage sector in the country.

Keith Adams


  1. As for marketing and selling for sure, we lack specialists with real historic knowledge.
    As for workshops most of them are in Poland, Romania, Portugal … no problem.

  2. Agreed, and the younger the individual the less historic knowledge they will have. The old boys have the knowledge but its stuff that’s difficult to pass on and none of us live for ever. Thankfully we have lots of UK companies doing a grand job. Locally we have two of the highest quality restorers within two miles of each other. We are near to Bicester Heritage and have at least half a dozen other specialists within a 15 miles radius of us. We do have plenty of choice so I’ll give Poland a miss for the minute.

  3. I have noticed very little in the way of empathy for classics by governments around the world. The overall tendency, with very rare exceptions, is to view them as old, dented, rusting, eco-damaging dinosaurs that belong in the knacker’s yard. As we know, some people of a particular end of the political spectrum, react to anything that is “fossil fuel”, as though it’s a crucifix being flashed in front of Dracula. When you point out to them that nicely restored classic cars–be they saloons, sports cars, or whatever–are worth preserving for posterity, they will show indifference, because it is something that they personally don’t care about, or they may acknowledge.that some classics could be allowed to survive, but that petrol will have to be rationed and become far more expensive than it is nowadays. Others say that the only classics that should be allowed to evade the crusher, are ones converted to electricity.

    While I am not an expert on what’s going on in Scandinavia, I am hearing that there are some countries already announcing the end of all gasoline-powered cars on their roads by such-and-such-a date…and this will spread to other countries, as politicians choose to ride the “green” wave, as it will make them more popular with younger voters. Even in England you have the London ban on cars older than five years…all quite worrying for our beloved classics. There is also a possibility that petrol production could come to a halt, either by being banned by government, or being phased out by oil companies that will no longer find it profitable to produce and refine it. Petrol is literally becoming less “politically correct” by the day.

    Given “green” governmental trends around the world, and younger generations increasingly being indoctrinated from kindergarten to university by the concept that fossil fuels spell the end of the world, should we indeed be worrying about the survival of classics? By extension, should we also be worrying about the health of the classic maintenance and restoration trade?

  4. I think they are interested in classics survival, in museums or say for some events, like you can see sometimes steamboats or antiquated sewing machines.
    They will produce a specific “green” fuel – Champagne price.
    More anxious about youngtimers, not allowed to drive in towns or maybe anywhere in a few years, damped for a subvention purchasing an EV …
    We may see some Mk2s or 911s surviving but what about say an Alfa 159 or Renault Laguna coupé ?

    • Oui, Philippe. In my comment above I mentioned that if gasoline were to still be allowed, it will become “far more expensive than today”. I like your comment about it going to be champagne-priced! I can already see it now: Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot and Bollinger CHEAPER than petrol! As for the other segment of the war on fossil fuels who want to crush gasoline cars, or TOLERATE their existence ONLY if converted to electricity, I can also see how well that will go down with some owners of classics. Take someone who has, for example, a sixteen million pound 1962 Ferrari. If he/she wants to ever drive it, it will have to have its wonderful, symphonic Colombo V-12 REMOVED, only to have batteries and a silent electric motor thrown in! Oh wow! What a joy, he said sarcastically! “You refuse to do the conversion?”, an MOT twenty-something year-old bureaucrat will say, “then sorry, old chap, but your classic can only be kept as a STATIC DISPLAY on your property…and even firing it up for a minute or two will be ILLEGAL, because you will be guilty of creating global warming.”

      All this won’t happen overnight, but as I implied in my earlier comment, the writing seems to be on the wall in terms of not-so-distant future years… Is there anyone out there who may have some concrete GOOD NEWS for the long-term health of the classic car world? I could use some cheering up!

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