On the left, Wayne Witheridge hands Jabbar Hussain his Autotech Academy certificate having completed his internship and secured a permanent position within Halfords Cotteridge.
A pilot scheme between Halfords and Autotech Academy, which has seen 10 newly qualified Level 3 automotive students placed across the national chain’s autocentres, is set to quadruple by the end of the year as the scheme is rolled out across Halford’s UK sites.
In a bid to create as many opportunities for young people as possible, Halfords is working with Autotech Academy to source and place newly qualified vehicle technicians in paid internships across its network of 600 UK Autocentres.
The pilot, which began in April, has already led to the permanent appointment of one intern, Jabbar Hussain within Halfords Autocentre Cotteridge, with many more expected to follow suit once the internship period comes to an end.
Complementing the company’s existing recruitment channels, which includes apprenticeships and working with local colleges to offer current automotive students work experience, the internship initiative was, according to Head of Quality at Halfords Autocentres, Andy Turbefield MSc FIMI, another route to explore.
“As an industry, we need to bite the bullet and create opportunities for young people, the talent pool we are all fishing in is getting shallower and we need to examine all avenues.” Andy comments. “We have worked with Autotech Group in the past, and I was interested to hear about their Academy division when it launched last year. It is certainly taking the pain of recruiting newly qualified vehicle technicians away and enhancing our recruitment streams with a minimal amount of investment.”
The initiative is also supporting Halford’s bid to create a more diverse workforce with more female interns coming through. “We need to reflect the communities we serve, and a large proportion are women, so it is fantastic to see the percentage of females signing up for automotive courses increase. We just need to ensure that these skills are transferred to the industry and create opportunities for them, which Autotech Academy is doing,” comments Andy.
A ‘grow your own’ concept, interns are vetted by Autotech Academy, before being put through to Halford's sites for an interview. They are then equipped with a toolbox and uniform by the Academy team before being placed on a 6 month internship. At the end of this, Halfords can decide to employ them on a permanent basis or not, effectively a ‘try before you buy' solution.
It’s a concept which is working well for the industry. Since its launch last January, Autotech Academy has helped almost 200 newly qualified Level 3 automotive students secure a role within dealer groups, fast fit centres and independent garages.
Significantly, every internship is tailored to suit the employer, from duration to additional training.
In the case of Halfords, the interns enter the company’s specific career path as a T1 with a view, once employed as a T2, to working their way through a career pathway that could lead to a T4 Master Technician position, or even into Management. “We enter the intern in as a T1 which is one above an apprentice level as, while they hold the theory, they don’t have the experience,” comments Andy. “However, within 3 months, we are seeing them at a similar level as a
third year apprentice. They become productive far more quickly, and an additional, full-time resource.”
While the pilot scheme has predominantly been focused within Halford’s South East autocentres, it will now be rolled out across the group’s 600 sites.
For more information visit www.autotechacademy.co.uk