Apprenticeship: Fact vs. fiction
Monday 07 April 2008
An apprenticeship in the motor industry can put you on the road to a huge range of exciting careers.
Times are changing in the wide world of Apprenticeships. Contrary to popular myth, the brightest students are needed on these programmes, where a wide range of skills and qualifications are needed. IT and customer skills, science, manual dexterity, the ability to analyse – all should be in an apprentice technician’s toolbox.
An apprenticeship involves two or three years of on-the-job training and study, and if you’re aged 16 to 18 it is fully funded. Even up to the age of 24 there is likely to be some funding, depending on where you live. “We need young men and women with a wide range of skills for our programmes these days,” says Bill Jeffries, head of the National Learning Centre at Citroën UK. “People skills are every bit as important as technical ability, and you’ll need drive and enthusiasm to get on. Once you’ve completed it, opportunities for progression in the motor industry are fantastic.”
One route to an Apprenticeship is to apply to an employer directly, describing what you are good at and how you would be an asset to their business if given the chance to go through an Apprenticeship programme. Remember to research their business as you need to illustrate that you know your stuff and good first impressions are vital – you’re not likely to be the only applicant.
Alternatively, you could approach a local college or motor industry training provider directly (many manufacturers run their own programmes). This route could include employment or a work placement, depending on whether your local employers are recruiting. Some providers offer full-time programmes, but you will be responsible for finding work when the programme ends.
What does it involve?
Termed “Apprenticeships” and “Advanced Apprenticeships” in England, and “Modern Apprenticeships” in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, programmes can vary in content as well as title. What is true for all of them is that once your work placement is finalised you should agree your individual training plan with your employer and learning provider.
You will be spending most of your time with your employer or on work placement – as many s five days a week – developing your technical knowledge and the skills you need in the motor industry. You will also spend time with your earning provider; either the manufacturer, local training provider or local college.
Your time there could be organised in a regular pattern – spending time on the programme every Wednesday, for example – as a “block release” of up to two weeks at a time, or a combination of both. Pay varies by employer, but is generally in the region of £6,000 to £8,000 per annum. Once you are qualified you employer may take you on permanently, and offer you a healthy salary increase at the same time.
You can choose from a range of specialist Apprenticeships in the retail motor industry. There’s something for everyone whether you like working with parts, electronics, paint or people – you name it.
Tyres, exhausts, brakes, batteries – they all wear out at some point and it’s a specialist job to replace them in doublequick time.
Vehicle maintenance and repair
Every vehicle needs to be maintained regularly and, of course, they also break down and need repairing quickly and to a high standard. Once qualified, you’ll be able to specialise in cars, motorbikes, trucks, auto-electrics, diagnostics – even the glamorous world of motorsport!
Vehicle body and paint operations
Thousands of cars, motorbikes and vans are involved in scrapes every day of the week. Working in vehicle-body repair and refinishing involves removing dents, and restoring the paintwork, as well as repairing the affected electrical and mechanical parts.
There are lots of people who love vehicles but who don’t necessarily feel they would enjoy the hands-on aspects. Vehicle parts operatives play a vital role in ensuring that technicians have the components they need to maintain and repair vehicles, using sophisticated computer systems and often working to tight deadlines.
Roadside assistance and recovery
A key role is played by technicians whose job it is to go out on the road and fix a vehicle that has broken down, or to recover it by taking the vehicle and its passengers to their destination. You’ll need to show excellent customer service skills, so if you’re good with people – as well as mechanically minded – there could be a future for you here.
For most people, buying a vehicle is the second most expensive purchase they make after a home – that’s why it’s important they make the right choice. The salesperson’s job is to help the customer make a decision that they will be satisfied with for the duration of the vehicle’s lifetime. That way they’ll come back again!
Automotive careers website
Advice on all aspects of motor industry careers and links to nationwide Apprenticeship programmes www.automotiveskills.org.uk/careers
Advice and apprentice job search from the well-known employment site http://apprentice.monster.co.uk
The Apprenticeship Guide
A comprehensive source of information on Apprenticeships www.apprenticeshipguide.co.uk
Apply online and find your nearest dealership www.citroenapprenticeships.com
Current vacancies and useful links www.hondapeople.co.uk/apprentice
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