Case study: Establishing a career in automotive...
I joined Halfords AutoCentres as an apprentice in 2013 at the age of 25; it had been a lifetime ambition to get into the motor trade but unfortunately I did not get an opportunity to do so and upon leaving school, I followed in my father’s footsteps and began an apprenticeship in lithographic machine printing.
How and why are you working with the IMI?
I completed my 3 year apprenticeship and was kept on as a machine operator on a B2 Roland 500 5 colour press with coater; I stayed there until 2013 when a new career opportunity in the motor trade arose for me. A friend of mine had started working at Halfords Autocentres and they told me, Halfords were looking to hire an apprentice to which I said “I am too old, I wouldn’t ever get a chance to have a shot at it”. I received a phone call from my friend who had spoken to the Regional General Manager and he seemed keen to interview me; I sent my CV in and got offered an interview which I attended and to my delight, I was offered the apprenticeship with Halfords Autocentres.
In June 2013, I began my career with Halfords Autocentres. I was very lucky at the age of 25 to be given this fantastic opportunity and investment, alongside the chance to do my IMI qualifications. I began building a great working relationship with my colleagues, learning on the job and becoming a real team player. During the apprenticeship, I attended PRO VQ in Shrewsbury where I did all of my practical and written exams. I learnt a lot from the technical trainers at PRO VQ. What a training centre!!
As well as doing my IMI level 2 and 3, I also had to re-sit my function skills, maths, English and ICT level 2 and 3 as they were over 5 years old; it was a lot of work but very rewarding and key to me completing my IMI qualification. During the apprenticeship, I was also nominated for apprentice of the year on a few occasions - being nominated felt like a fantastic achievement. As well as doing my IMI training in Shrewsbury, I also gained lots of experience with some great colleagues in centres especially when I moved to Stretford 009 branch where the learning really started. The Branch Manager at the time, ran his branch like no one I’d ever seen before and what a fantastic team they had. I was taken under the Stretford team’s wing and mentored all the way through the remainder of my apprenticeship. When I qualified my level 3 IMI and passed all of my exams, I was given the opportunity to do my F Gas Handling licence and IMI exam in F Gas Handling.
How has working with the IMI helped you?
Since finishing my apprenticeship, I had a keen interest in the office and I used to help with all office admin, call handling and dealing with customers etc., I started learning a different side of the business and was given an opportunity to progress to Assistant Manager. Since my promotion, I have gained a lot of experience in management, customer service (which is the main focus) and HR software. I have been given the opportunity to run branches which has given me the experience to eventually progress to Centre, Senior or Regional Manager. There are many job opportunities within Halfords Autocentres and it’s great to work with some fantastic colleagues. So, from apprentice to Assistant Manager in 6 and a half years, that is my journey since June 2013!!!