Following its response to the IMI’s call to action to support the College, after a fire damaged its specialist Motorsport and Motorcycle workshops back in February, Autotech Academy collaborated with the Foray Motor Group, to create the work experience solution.
Fortunately, the College has alternative workshops at its Bridgwater and Taunton campuses, and has done its best to mitigate the impact on automotive students despite the significant loss of state-of-the-art workspace, vehicles, and tools.
Six students from the automotive department, who had seen their learning impacted as a result of the fire, were placed in two Ford garages, operated by the Foray Motor Group, closely located to the College.
Over the course of three weeks, the students were divided between the group’s Taunton and Bridgwater campuses, and regularly rotated to work within the workshop, the parts department and service desk, providing them with a fully comprehensive experience.
“I had an amazing three weeks at Taunton Ford, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has been incredibly valuable to me, particularly as we got to see how the different departments operated with each other, from when the customer's car came in, to seeing how it was processed. I’ve gained so much understanding about how a main dealer is run and operated, it’s been a real eye opener. I’m actually disappointed to leave as I felt like I was becoming a part of the team," comments Thomas Leworthy.
"The opportunity to work at Taunton Ford was completely different to what I expected. It was a very friendly atmosphere, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience," comments Haydn Dyer.
"This has been a great experience, as I now know what it's like to work in an actual garage. I had never done anything like this before, and I particularly enjoyed applying what I had learned to the different departments, and also seeing what I worked best at - from the workshop to searching for parts, to manning the service desk. It was a challenging experience but one that I was very pleased to take part in,” commented Damian Garland.
Ben Williams-Thomas also added: “My time at Bridgwater Ford was a brilliant three weeks’ worth of experience. Watching and getting hands-on experience with the technicians at Foray was perfect and has definitely put me in a better place going forward in the automotive industry, helping with my confidence, and giving me a lot more real-life experience outside of college and really seeing what it’s like to work in a real garage.”
Max Grabham, CMA Aftersales Manager at Foray Motor Group Ltd, who managed the work experience with Autotech Academy, commented: “For us, here at Foray, the experience has been a positive one, receiving young and motivated candidates who were engaged and keen to be involved throughout their time in the dealership was very refreshing. At first, I was apprehensive about the level of skill and attitude of the candidates selected, but after completing an induction into the business and introductions, I quickly realised that these young students really wanted to get the most from their time with us.”
“The team and I delivered what I believe to be a rewarding and informative experience, giving them an insight into a variety of roles and allowing them opportunities to get hands-on in both admin and workshop roles. I think the programme was well received by the learners, and I’m confident they valued the experience and have taken some knowledge away with them. The candidates have since been in touch, thanking us for taking the time to deliver the work placement and allowing them the opportunity to work with us. As a result, this experience has created engaged and newly qualified learners seeking opportunities within the industry, and after our first taste of this it’s certainly created an alternative route to bringing new blood into the sector, and something we hope will continue to grow.”
Gavin White, CEO, Autotech Group, concludes: “We established Autotech Academy to bring our college and automotive employer links together, and create a solution which would benefit students. While the focus of Academy will be to establish internships for qualified students, the fact that this work experience opportunity between Ford and Bridgwater & Taunton College came to fruition is testament to our fantastic relationships to both the educational and the automotive industries. We are delighted that the students gained so much out of their three weeks.”
Autotech Academy was established by Autotech Group to counteract the shortage of fresh talent entering the automotive industry. The initiative is set to provide qualified college leavers with a gateway into the aftermarket through a paid internship.
For more information visit Autotech Academy.