For a number of years Autotech Recruit has been raising awareness and highlighting the benefits apprenticeships can bring to the UK’s motor trade. We have tirelessly talked about this subject, written numerous articles and organised events to emphasise the importance of attracting and nurturing new talent in the sector, which although innovative and strong, still suffers from a skill shortage, inhibiting its capacity for future growth.
In 2015, we decided to lead by example and give back to the automotive industry by sponsoring a three-year Audi apprenticeship for two aspiring vehicle technicians – Jake and Lee. As the National Apprenticeship Week 2018 is drawing to an end, we’d like to share the story of those two fantastic young men, who are now in the final year of their service technician apprenticeship at Bedford Audi (Vindis Group). We hope that more young people choose to take a similar path and the number of automotive businesses, who realise apprenticeships are an ideal way to support their growth, increase substantially in the years to come.
For Lee McIntrye, 20, university was unappealing. The idea of big debts and a hard time getting a job to pay them off made little sense to him. But, when it came to finding an alternative to higher education, the pathways were not particularly clear. With a keen, lifelong interest in motorcycles and cars, Lee kept close tabs on apprenticeship programmes, and, when an apprenticeship opportunity arose at Bedford Audi, he applied.
In 2015, Autotech Recruit, under its newly launched apprenticeship division, developed the specific recruitment and training plan as a pilot for Bedford Audi’s IMI Apprenticeship Programme. Under the programme, Autotech Recruit pledged to sponsor two vehicle apprentices for three years.
As the only recruitment agency in the automotive industry dedicated to filling both temporary and permanent positions for vehicle technicians and MOT testers, Autotech Recruit MD, Gavin White, states the catalyst for approaching Bedford Audi to sponsor two apprentices, was the shortfall of young people entering the motor trade. “Whilst it is great news to see automotive vacancies on the rise, it is worrying that many of these positions are going unfilled due to the skills shortage. Apprenticeships offer a great solution to this problem and, according to government data, generate economic returns for the UK of £26 to £28 per pound invested and are considered to be a key route to boosting the industry’s productivity.”
This vision is shared by Richard Hillier, Head of Business at Bedford Audi: “Vehicle mechanics has moved on at such a pace over the last few years we are struggling to find technicians with the skill set to be able to repair and maintain the vehicles that we sell,” he comments. “We are convinced that the employment of high-quality apprentices will sustain our business, and move our industry forward.”
Following a series of interviews conducted by both Richard and Gavin, the two positions were filled by Lee and 21 year old Jake Bartlett.
The apprenticeship programme not only offers a hands on learning experience, but culminates in a highly recognised IMI qualification. Now in their final year of the programme, both Lee and Jake, who will become fully qualified service technicians at the end of the three year course, emphasised the full breadth of learning that they are undertaking where, ‘no two days are the same,’ under the watchful eye of their dedicated mentors.
“Every day is varied,” comments Jake. “I like the fact that I get to work at all ends of the spectrum, from changing a turbo temperature sensor, to an oil service or even carrying out an entire engine swap.”
Assigned to the apprentices from day one the mentors provide integral hands-on learning and, according to Jake, act as life guidance coaches to their protégés too! Each day the apprentices check their rack for jobs which have been delegated to them by the Workshop Controller. Under their observant mentors both Jake and Lee carry out their work, which, both admit, teaches them more than College ever can. “College is good,” comments Lee, “but you learn so much more from the workplace.”
College, is in fact, Audi’s dedicated, high-tech VW/Audi Group National Learning Centre in Milton Keynes. “It’s a fantastic facility and we get to work on brand new cars,” comments Lee. “Everyone goes there to learn about new software and vehicles, it’s a constant learning process for everyone in the group.”
So, what does the future hold following the three years Jake and Lee are sponsored by Autotech Recruit? As Lee explains, “once I have passed my IMI exams I will be a Service Technician and, following that a Qualified Technician. From there I can move onto be a Master Technician or even go into management.”
While the main draw to both was the Audi brand name, the chance to earn money while learning valuable skills and gaining a globally recognised qualification at the end of the program was equally appealing, as was the rapidly changing landscape of the industry. “Cars are getting more and more advanced and keeping up with the technology could be a struggle, particularly if you are a technician who has left the trade for several years,” comments Jake. “Cars today are incredibly precise and technical and it is a constant learning process. We keep up to date by using the most advanced technology, for instance Audi Cams where we record what we are doing for the customer. You need a mix of both mechanical and IT skills to work within this industry! The environment is great and with all the new cars coming in, like hybrids and electric cars, its constantly changing. With electric cars we have to manage the voltage which could be dangerous… but adding a bit of danger to your working day is exciting!”
As the defining body within the motor industry, an IMI qualification offers a solid learning framework and is widely recognised in the automotive sector. “An apprenticeship programme provides a well rounded learning experience, capturing all elements of the motor business, while offering a route to harness fresh new talent to ensure that the industry has the practical skills and qualifications needed now, and in the future.” Gavin concludes. “We seriously hope that other companies within the industry see the value of these programmes, and how it can benefit their business in the long run.”
Watch the IMI’s careers video featuring Jake and Lee here.
For further information about automotive apprenticeships, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 01234 432 978.