With universities losing their appeal as graduates leave with large debts and degrees that may not open the door to a job, the alternative of work-and-learn apprenticeships is rapidly gaining popularity.
Both employers and would-be employees, are finding the mix of practical and theoretical education is a better grounding and preparation for full time work. For the trainees there is the considerable attraction of being paid while they learn, instead of paying to learn!
Industry and the government is recognising this and has recently committed funding allowing the number of school leavers in these schemes to grow by more than 250,000 places over the next couple of years and from the current 130,000 to 400,000 by 2020.
The motor industry is at the forefront, embracing apprenticeships like few others, recognising that the challenges ahead will require people with totally different skills.
Two obvious examples are electric cars and self-driving cars, they are the future and people expert in these technologies will be needed to design, build, sell and service them; dealerships face new threats from online outlets and need to find new ways of marketing themselves, requiring new thinking on the marketing of vehicles. There are many more challenges to come in this fast changing industry which is constantly on the lookout for new talent and has the resources to develop it.
The scope of the opportunities is amazing, covering everything from advanced design and engineering with next generation prototypes; to restoring classic cars; customer-facing roles in dealerships; preparing race and rally cars; a huge variety of jobs in manufacturing within a factory environment and dealership administrative support functions.
There are apprenticeship opportunities with manufacturers from McLaren to Morgan and from Ferrari to Ford and with dealerships and specialist body repairers and restorers across the country.
One company which has invested heavily in training those who will hopefully be its staff of tomorrow is luxury car maker, Bentley. The Cheshire company was recently voted the second best of any company offering apprenticeships in the School Leavers’ Awards which is voted for by apprentices.
Speaking of the award, Marlies Rogait, Member of the Board for Human Resources, said: “Bentley is committed to attracting, inspiring and developing the next generation of talented employees, and the success at these awards is a fantastic acknowledgement of the commitment and expertise of the colleagues leading our training programmes.
“Each of our schemes offers a solid foundation upon which to build the skills and knowledge required to become experts and professionals in their chosen field. We continue to demonstrate our commitment to future talent by recruiting in significant numbers and 2017 is no exception. We are looking to attract extraordinary candidates – Bentley experts of tomorrow – who can add to our already highly-skilled and passionate workforce.”
It’s not just motor manufacturers who offer apprenticeship schemes, its motor retailers and repairers too, like Swansway Motor Group. We offer apprenticeships in many areas of the business, not just apprentice Technicians, which is the one which most often springs to people’s minds.
There are currently 30 apprentices across the group, these, of course, include Technicians, but there also apprentices in Parts, as Service Advisors, in Customer Service and HR. They are working towards A Level 2 NVQ and some have progressed are working towards Level 3.
The motor trade is an excellent place for nurturing careers and jobs in it are usually relatively well paid. Taking data from the industry as a whole, the average salary is £27,000. Some 150,000 jobs are directly involved in manufacturing and another 650,000 or so in the industry as a whole.
How old do I have to be to get on a scheme?
Apprenticeships are aimed, at and tailored for, school leavers aged between 16 and 19.
What qualifications will I need before I can apply?
It depends on the nature of the apprenticeship but as a rule of thumb you will be required to have at least five GCSEs in the basic topics such as maths and English, a science subject.
However, always remember that the key thing someone thinking of investing in you and your future is looking for is enthusiasm and real evidence that you want the chance to learn.
How long does it take?
Again, it depends on what course you are on and the likely job at the end. For a job in a car dealership it can take perhaps two years for an administrative role, three if it involves mechanical work. In a manufacturer’s factory it may be even longer, up to four years.
What actually happens during the programme?
It is a mix of practical and theoretical. You will get hands-on training with an experienced person who will act as your mentor as well as the more traditional learning in a classroom environment.
And at the end?
Every scheme will give you at the least a qualification that is recognised throughout the motor industry, but for the more involved programmes you could end up with something equivalent to a degree.
As for the job, well, nothing is certain in life, but given that the company has invested in you for a few years, has paid you during that time and paid someone to guide and train you, then so long as you have put in the same effort from your side and showed willing then you have to be in with a better than even chance.
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