The industry came together this week to showcase the many opportunities offered by automotive industry careers as part National Apprenticeship Week, aiming to demonstrate the positive influence apprenticeships can have not only on individuals but also on the businesses themselves and the broader economy.
There was also good news with figures showing that the latest academic year witnessed a notable surge in automotive apprenticeships. The IMI reported the highest influx of new enrolments since pre-COVID-19 times, with a 9% increase compared to the previous academic year.
Emma Carrigy, IMI’s research manager, said recent analysis indicates a widening appeal for automotive studies, possibly fuelled by the growing prevalence of advanced technologies like ADAS and electric vehicles.
“Of particular interest,” she said, “is the noticeable rise in intermediate-level apprenticeships, which may reflect a growing demand for foundational skills and entry-level qualifications, potentially serving as a gateway to more advanced training or addressing current job market demands.”
IMI data also revealed a substantial increase in the number of under-19s commencing automotive apprenticeships, marking the youngest cohort in this field over the past six years, reflecting the result of targeted outreach efforts to engage younger people.
“Compared to other sectors, automotive boasts the tenth highest percentage increase, which is extremely positive news for a field grappling with a significant skills gap,” added Carigny.
There is still much work to be done to maintain those gains. The Independent Garage Association (IGA), for one, is urging for surplus funding to be allocated to training technicians in the forthcoming Spring Budget next month before its members go out of business.
Since the apprenticeship levy launched in 2017, it noted that apprenticeship enrolment has drastically declined, exacerbated by insufficient funding for training which has led to a 39% decrease in new Level 2 & 3 Light Vehicle apprenticeship registrations.
To address this issue, the IGA proposes offering financial incentives from unused Levy funds to individuals aged 19 and above who are not currently employed, in education, or undergoing training, something which Stuart James, IGA chief executive, said was an opportunity for the government to provide assistance.
Addressing skills shortages also features as a key priority in the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) budget submission alongside its call for reform of the apprenticeship levy.
“The upcoming Spring Budget in March looks likely to be the last major fiscal event before a general election is called this year. This provides a vital opportunity for the Government to listen to the concerns of automotive retailers and outline its vision for the future of the sector” said Sue Robinson, its chief executive.
Steve Eagell Group
The NAW’s theme this year was ‘Skills for Life,’ and aimed to reflect how the support, training, and practical experience provided through apprenticeships contribute to lifelong skills development. Steven Eagell Group, actively committed to this theme, highlighting success stories from both current and past apprentices as well as the many advantages that apprenticeships offered it as an employer.
Throughout the week, the company’s blog is featuring a series of Q&A sessions with current and former apprentices across various departments, offering insights into their apprenticeship journeys with content posted on its social media platforms.
The Steven Eagell Group offers apprenticeships across diverse roles and departments, both at its Milton Keynes headquarters and within its dealerships, including technician, service, parts, finance, marketing, and HR positions and is now extending its apprenticeship opportunities within its customer contact centre.
Collaborating closely with local schools and colleges where its Toyota and Lexus centres are situated, apprentices at the dealership group benefit from extensive on-the-job training and a comprehensive remunerations and benefits package.
Steven Eagell, CEO, said: “Since we first began offering apprenticeships, our business has benefitted significantly from the skills, enthusiasm and innovation that apprentices bring to our company and we look forward to expanding our offering to include more roles than ever before.”
Throughout this week, Swansway is also showcasing success stories from past and present apprentices on its LinkedIn and Facebook Careers pages and providing information about opportunities spanning creative, technical, mathematical, and other areas such as digital marketing.
Lucas Rydings, a digital marketing apprentice with Escalla, works within Swansway’s marketing team, spending five weeks developing skills there and one week at Escalla, where he shares his learnings.
Reflecting on his initial four months as an automotive apprentice, Lucas said: “It’s been fascinating to explore the different facets of digital marketing. Understanding the nuances of each role is helping me chart my career path.”
One example is Sam Booth who was promoted to the head of business role at Crewe SEAT, showcasing the potential for career growth from apprenticeship beginnings.
Apprenticeships at Swansway offer practical experience crucial for career development, says recruitment advisor Carley Farrington, who believes apprenticeships prepare individuals exceptionally well for work by immersing them in real-world scenarios and often offer recognised qualifications from brands like JLR and the VAG Group.
David Smyth, a Swansway director, explained that Swansway prides itself on our professional development and helping its employees to maximise their careers: “Sam is one example of many who have taken this opportunity and run with it, often with the starting point of an apprenticeship.”
Hendy Group also took the opportunity of National Apprenticeship Week to bestow the prestigious title of Apprentice of the Year upon Ollie Clayton who is the company’s inaugural sales apprentice and who has performed exceptionally over the past 18 months since joining its Portsmouth branch.
In recent years, Hendy Group has diversified its apprenticeship offerings to encompass various roles, including marketing, business administration, and sales, alongside traditional technician apprenticeships. Currently, 65 apprentices contribute across the business with 19 set to graduate this year.
Sarah Martyn, director of people & organisational development at Hendy said: “Investing in our future talent is key to long-term business sustainability and growth. We look for apprentices who really want a career and we commit to providing that.”
“Apprentices bring fresh ideas and contribute to the success of our teams through their dedication to development and are key in our investment in future talent and bridge the skills gap we see industry wide.”
Jardine Motors Group
Age seems to be no barrier to the career opportunities afforded by an apprenticeship.
A case in point is Gary Byrne who marked his 40th birthday in 2020 as a sales specialist at Jardine Motor Group’s Oldham Audi, believing his opportunity to secure his maths and English GCSE had slipped away meaning that a formal education was behind him.
However, in a mere four years, Gary, is on the verge of completing his Level 3 Team Leader Apprenticeship with provider Realise. Not only has he attained the equivalent of a GCSE in maths and English, but he’s already eyeing his next educational milestone.
Although not the path he envisioned for his forties, Gary attests to the rewarding experience and is grateful for Jardine for the opportunity which aligns perfectly with his current role and future aspirations.
As Gary nears the culmination of his apprenticeship, he now anticipates commencing his Level 5 qualification, aiming to become a head of business by the time he turns 50.
UK-based Ferrari dealerships are meanwhile opening their workshop doors to host a range of open day events, giving young people an opportunity to learn about cutting-edge Ferrari technology
Ferrari North Europe’s investment in its apprenticeship facilities amounts to over £500,000 and includes a commitment from the its UK dealers to take on at least one apprentice for the duration of the 2/3-year apprentice programme.
A dedicated workshop with over £20,000 worth of tools and equipment is available for apprentices to receive hands-on training for servicing and maintaining Ferrari cars.
Since the launch of the Ferrari North Europe Apprenticeship programme back in August 2011, over 120 people have been successfully trained and built their careers there.
National Apprenticeship Week also saw Paul Philpott, CEO of Kia UK, inaugurate the brand-new Kia Academy which will equip learners with essential STEM skills necessary for the automotive industry.
Situated within a purpose-built 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Derby, the academy is focussed on advanced electrified training to upskill apprentices and adult learners, fostering leadership among technicians.
The state-of-the-art Kia Academy, led by Skillnet, aims to provide apprentices and adult learners with these critical skills through Kia Apprenticeships and Kia is using social media to promote its opportunities and showcase the program’s benefits during the week.
Philpott stressed the Academy’s role in shaping future industry leaders and Kia’s dedication to technical training and apprenticeships.
“As the automotive industry advances with electrification at its heart, we continue to highlight the importance of technical training and apprenticeships. These students will become the industry-leaders of the future and form the backbone of Kia.”
Bentley Motors also took the opportunity of National Apprenticeship Week to launch its eagerly awaited apprenticeship programme, offering 38 openings for applications as part of its ambitious Beyond100 strategy.
Successful candidates will join over 4,000 colleagues at its ‘Dream Factory’ in Crewe, which is targeting the exclusive production of electric vehicles by 2030.
The available roles primarily emphasize electrical engineering, digital software, and project management, spanning from Level 2 to Level 6 across various departments such as manufacturing, engineering, quality, purchasing, HR, IT, and finance.
Dr Karen Lange, member of the board for human resources, said: “As we execute our Beyond100 strategy, fresh ideas, diverse perspectives, and innovative capabilities are essential, and these recruits have the opportunity to contribute to our ambitions, shaping our future while maintaining our position at the forefront of innovation and sustainable luxury mobility.”
Emily Ruscoe, a degree apprentice in body & trim engineering, shared her experience: “As an apprentice at Bentley, you’re not only respected but also entrusted with responsibilities from the outset, making you feel like a valued team member.”
Nissan also opened the doors of its technical centre to 150 local students at a “Driving Innovation” workshop, which aimed to provide a glimpse into STEM careers and to nurture upcoming talent.
Taking place in Cranfield on February 5, the initiative aimed to inspire the next generation of engineers by offering them an exclusive peek into Nissan’s Research and Development facilities and the process behind technology development.
Students were introduced to the latest European models – Qashqai, JUKE, and LEAF – all crafted in Cranfield while hands-on workshops demonstrated material strength and structural integrity as well as showcasing the role of gearboxes and powertrains in vehicle performance and fuel efficiency.
Yuri Rodrigues, regional vice president, Nissan AMIEO, highlighted the significance of the day: “Recognising that diversity in STEM contributes to a more innovative and inclusive future, it was a pleasure to open our doors to young minds, providing them with a hands-on experience to spark curiosity for the automotive world.”