There’s more to motor careers: Motorcycle Technical Apprentice


The route into automotive isn’t always direct. Sam James, Technical Apprentice at Lind Triumph came into the industry after initially heading to university, but a passion for the sector and an eagerness to succeed has accelerated his career.

What drew you into the automotive industry?

When I was about 14 or 15 I started working on old VW Beetles and stuff like that as a hobby. Then I bought a Morris Minor for my first car, and I'd do lots of maintenance, running around in it, and just enjoyed it. 

I moved to London and went to university to study film. Nothing to do with automotive at all. I couldn't get a job in what I wanted to do, and ended up working in pubs and stuff around London to pay the rent. Then I ended up working for Norton in a clothing store they had in Soho. That got me really interested in the automotive side of things again.

I saw there was a job as a service advisor working for Triumph in a store they were opening in Central London. I applied for that. Being close to the workshop got me more and more interested in it again. Eventually they were looking for apprentices so my boss signed me up to do the apprenticeship.

How did you find the transition to becoming an apprentice?

Having done the service advisor role, it gave me quite a good foundation for going into the apprenticeship.

A lot of what the programme is about communication with customers, team members, and stuff like that. For me, it was the technical side of things that was the biggest learning curve because as I said, I've done stuff on old cars but doing especially diagnostic on new bikes was worlds apart.

But I love getting to work on the bikes every day, it’s fantastic. As cliché as it is, I learn something new every day. Plus I get to test ride amazing bikes every day!

Where would you like your career to take you?

I'm going to stay with Triumph London for the next few years! I work with a custom bike builder whom I've been doing pieces with. Ideally where I'd like to go with it is still do the service and maintenance stuff, but eventually, I'd like to do my own custom workshop, customising and building bikes to order for customers. That's where I'd like to go with it.

I still enjoy doing the servicing side of it, but there is something really interesting and exciting about building a bespoke custom bike.

What would you say to someone considering automotive – and the motorcycle sector – as a career choice?

Doing the apprenticeship gives you a skill for life and it’s transferable. There are people who go from doing bikes to light vehicles. It doesn't just open up the bike industry for you, it opens up the whole automotive industry, if that's what you're interested in.

You're being paid to learn, which is another great thing. I've done both. I've done university, I've done an apprenticeship. University saddled me with a load of debt that I don't use for anything.

There are job opportunities. It can take you internationally. One of the guys that used to work here, he's now over in Sydney, Australia. He's working on Triumphs over there and loves it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their apprenticeship journey?

Ask as many questions as possible. You'll get out what you put in. All the people I've worked with and all the people I've met up at the training centre will tell you as much as you want to know. I think that's the main thing, really. Ask questions, absorb as much as you can.

I was one of the older ones on the course. I turned 30 this year. I think for the younger guys, it's painting the bigger picture. They see the coursework and think, "Oh, God, I've got to write this, and I've got to do that." Like I said, it's that bigger picture of you do leave it with a qualification at the end. It's three years, and then you get a qualification that can take you all over the place.

One of the young guys at one of our other sites in West London started the apprenticeship. He was a bit unsure, and then he signed on to work with a pit crew doing British superbikes. That's what he wants to do now. He wants to get his qualification, work his way up, work in pit crews, and go around the world with it.

The course is hard work, you've got a lot to do, but the tutors will help you out, the mentors will help you out, and it will all pay off in the end.

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