You know when you go on holiday and need to hire a set of wheels for the trip? Or when you get that company car thrown in with the job? There are people whose job it is to make these things happen for you: they work in rental and leasing. There are loads of different angles too - whether you like working with people or numbers, contracts or insurance, or even fancy a crack at running your own business!

RENTAL

Rental companies are spread right across the country, with offices in most city centres, airports and major train stations. The emphasis here is on helping customers who want to hire a vehicle - usually a car or van - on a short term basis. Time is divided between dealing with customers face-to-face and over the phone, explaining what vehicles are available and on what terms. Quite a bit of time can be spent with the vehicle too: driving and positioning it, demonstrating it and checking its condition when it arrives back from the customer.

Enterprise rent-a-car ( www.enterprisealive.com), runs a management training programme that encourages talented people of all ages and backgrounds to make decisions right from the outset. These management trainees are given hands-on business training in local branches, learning about roles from sales and marketing to customer service and finance, fast-tracking them into management positions. Within two years, trainees almost always reach branch manager status, enjoying their share of the profits.

The BVRLA's City & Guilds rental operator exams assess the knowledge of staff working in the frontline, and are a key qualification; two of Thrifty Car Rental's staff members took first and second place in last year's national exams.

Lee Clarke, 23, bagged second place. He qualified as an NVQ Level 2 motor vehicle engineer a couple of years after leaving school, managed a rental operation by age 22 while completing further NVQs, and he now works for Thrifty as assistant rental manager. Good going!

LEASING

Mostly office-based, the leasing business deals with the long-term rental of vehicles and all aspects of fleet management. This includes things like vehicle purchase, accident management and service bookings, right through to vehicle disposal at the end of the contract, which usually lasts about three years. Customer contact will involve negotiation of the terms of a lease, provision of insurance requirements and ongoing sales support. It's not as frontline as vehicle rental, but you'll be dealing with lots of people every day.

At ALD Automotive 17 young people have been employed on training placements since 2004, with a view to offering them full-time positions if a relevant vacancy is available. Half of these trainees now work at the company.

Trainees on these placements complete their Foundation Apprenticeship, a vocational qualification recognised by employers in any industry. Jo Green joined ALD at 16, showed a good understanding of credit control procedures, handled responsibility well and was promoted to credit control team-leader aged just 20!

FURTHER INFORMATION

Have you got the right attitude to join the rental and leasing industry? If you have enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, are polite, well-presented and can demonstrate basic numeracy and literacy skills, then employers will want to take you on. Personality is often considered as important as qualifications.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) represents the majority of the rental and leasing industry in the UK, with 800 members employing over 35,000 staff. To get a better idea of career prospects visit the BVRLA website, where you will be able to see current vacancies; go to www.bvrla.co.uk and look under Services.

You can also try the Automotive Skills careers portal, for jobs and advice on getting into rental and leasing: www.automotiveskills.org.uk/careers

CASE STUDY

JOHN LYNCH

AGE: 25

JOB TITLE: BRANCH RENTAL MANAGER, ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR

YEAR JOINED: 2003

What I enjoy most about my role is that the company gives you a chance to run every aspect of a business. Thinking long-term, I'd like to reach a general manager position and perhaps start up a group in another country. If you're going to go overseas, Enterprise will help you learn the language before you move.

I also like the fact that everyone's young at heart, which makes for less of a hierarchy. We're all coming from a similar angle, and all want to do well. I'm just so glad I've got a job I love - I can't think of anything worse than waking up in the morning and not wanting to get out of bed and go to work.

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