As the motor industry shifts towards a connected, electrified future, many roles within the sector have evolved beyond recognition. Jason Ratcliffe, Level Four Master Technician at Rybrook Volvo in Warrington, puts the spotlight on how the role of a vehicle technician has transformed significantly in the short time since he embarked on Volvo Car UK’s apprentice scheme aged 16.
While fully autonomous drive is yet to materialise, its arrival is keenly anticipated. In the meantime, developments such as electrified vehicles and in-car connectivity have become increasingly prevalent within the industry, and in turn the job of a car mechanic is not what it once was. The growing importance of diagnostics and software to overall vehicle performance and the ownership experience is a key part of this transition.
This developing relationship between software and hardware has seen Jason’s role evolve significantly in recent years, as he explains: “My job’s changed a lot since I started. Rather than just your traditional technician’s work, wearing an oily boiler suit to work on engines and brake pads, I now get to work with the latest in-car tech.”
Even in the seven years since Jason left school, there have been a number of ground-breaking developments that have transformed the way he works.
The emergence of safety technologies such as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) has been an industry-wide movement, but one in which Volvo’s role cannot be understated. Volvo Cars launched its first collision-avoidance technology in 2006. Jason continues: “Driver-assist features are something I get to work with every day, and this is a technology that I hadn’t heard of 10 years ago. Being a car technician in 2019 means you get to experience working on all sorts of new technologies like these that have a real impact on saving and improving people’s lives.”
Today, at the age of 23, Jason regularly works with car connectivity features such as the ground-breaking Volvo On Call connected services platform and Volvo’s Sensus touchscreen control system, along with driver-assistance aids that have been developed since he first realised he wanted to be a car technician. “Cars aren’t driving themselves yet, but working at Volvo has shown me we’re not a million miles away,” he says.
“With the constant innovation throughout the industry, I’ve been challenged to keep on top of the latest developments, which I thoroughly enjoy. Having the knowledge to give customers the answers they want is a big part of my job, and these days helping them to understand and interact with technologies such as driver-assistance and in-car connectivity is a big part of that.”
“When I started at Volvo, it would be a servicing agent who engaged the customer; now technicians interact with them directly. The training that I’ve been given has helped me develop my skills so I can get exactly the information we need from the customer and work through their issue with them. This is part of Volvo’s increasingly customer-centric approach.”
Jon Wakefield, Volvo Car UK Managing Director, says: “Our industry-leading innovations in the fields of safety, connectivity and driver-assistance technology have changed the roles of everyone within our business. As we continue to strive forward and develop these technologies, these roles will develop further.
“Regular training on new technologies is offered to all the technicians within the business, available through our online portal. This ensures that our technicians have the knowledge they need to offer our customers the best possible level of service.”