Five apprenticeships driving the industry

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What’s in this article: The motor industry is powered by apprenticeships, and these five are core to its success

The motor industry is crying out for fresh faces, with an enormous skills shortage threatening to put the brakes on the sector’s growth. That means there is a ravenous appetite for apprentices in the industry, but which apprenticeships are the most crucial to its future? We have put together a list of the five most popular programmes and those that the industry needs most to fill its staff shortages.

1.    Motor Vehicle Service and Maintenance Technician (light vehicle)

The Level 3 scheme sets apprentices up to service and repair light vehicles such as cars and vans. Over 36 months, typically, they gain technical skills to work on all the systems in a vehicle – steering, suspension, electrical circuit, etc – as well as good customer handling skills.

Mark Currie, CEO of training provider Mantra Learning, says this scheme is crucial to the future of the motor industry because of the dire shortage of qualified technicians. A survey in October 2018 by Progress Recruitment found that 96% of garages said skilled technicians were very important or vital, only 2% said recruitment was easy. And half had been unable to hire technicians.

2.    Autocare Technician

On this Level 2 programme, apprentices learn to perform many services and repairs to cars, vans and light goods vehicles. They obtain a mix of technical, retail and customer service skills, using tools to identify and repair simple system faults.

The scheme is key because of the sheer number of vehicles on the road, Currie says – at the end of June 2019 there were 4.1 million LGVs licensed for use in the UK, accounting for 10.6% of all licensed vehicles.  

3.    Heavy Vehicle Service and Maintenance Technician

Apprentices on this Level 3 programme spend 36 months gaining the skills, knowledge and behaviours to inspect and repair HVs and trailers for dealerships, independent garages and large fleet operators.

For example, they learn to keep updated with emerging technologies in the HV industry. Frank Harvey, from the Independent Garage Association, cites the example of advanced collision warning systems.

He adds that the increasing use of tech in the HV industry makes this apprenticeship vital to its future: “It’s a sector that needs new blood and anybody that goes into this sector now has a long and fruitful career ahead of them.”

4.    Customer Service Specialist

Today, a good motor vehicle technician needs to not just be able to change a tyre or spark plug, but also to communicate effectively with customers.

That’s why this Level 3 apprenticeship is so important to the sector’s future, says Mark Armitage, head of membership products and services at the Institute of the Motor Industry. “Apprentices at dealerships or garages need to be able to take their customer’s issue or requirement and handle it with professionalism and make sure they meet or exceed customer expectations,” he says.

The apprenticeship takes a minimum of 15 months to complete and candidates will gain advanced interpersonal, problem solving, organisational, communication and teamwork skills.

5.    Operations/Departmental Manager

On this 30-month scheme, apprentices will gain experience in building relationships, managing a team, finances, as well as expertise in project management and operations. Essentially, it sets them up to become the future business leaders of the motor industry.

The programme is important because of the sector’s ageing workforce, Armitage says. “There’s a massive demand in the sector for young operations talent to ensure we have a leadership pipeline for the future,” he says. “Management teams, the age profile can sometimes increase in some businesses. You have to balance great staff retention with hiring the next generation.”

Want to find out more about the range of apprenticeships available and how they could kickstart your career, all the information you need is here