Companies in the tyre and auto-care sector have just one week to make their views known on a proposal which could determine the viability of the industry’s future workforce.
The UK government has introduced changes to the way apprenticeships are run, requiring new standards to be developed in all sectors operating apprenticeships by 2017. Government policy places greater emphasis on industry and the development of these new standards is to be led by leading employers, with the support of other businesses, trade bodies and training providers.
A ‘trailblazer’ group from across the tyre and auto-repair industry has worked together to propose a new standard for vehicle repair technician to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The group includes large employers such as Kwik Fit, ATS Euromaster, National Tyre & Autocare, Micheldever, McConechy’s Tyre & Autocentres, as well as smaller businesses including Horndean Tyres, Tyre Medics and Springbok Motors. Tyre manufacturers Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear Dunlop and Michelin are represented in the group, as are industry training providers such as ProVQ , Remit and North London Garages Group Training Association, as well as industry bodies IMI and the NTDA.
There is some difference of opinion in the motor industry over the levels of apprenticeship qualification which are required. Paul Binks, head of learning and development at Kwik Fit, says: “A number of organisations in the automotive sector appear to believe that only Level 3 apprenticeships are required. This ignores the reality, which is that for the vast majority of 16-18 year olds entering the industry, a Level 2 or intermediate apprenticeship is the most appropriate programme and without a standard at this level, thousands of potential recruits will be unable to enter the sector.”
Data from the Skills Funding Agency reveals that in 2014/15 four times as many 16-18 year olds began Intermediate Apprenticeships programmes than joined Advanced schemes, a reflection of the automotive repair industry as a whole, as Level 2 covers the largest proportion of activity. With the UK aftermarket predicted to be worth a total of £28billion and employing 400,000 people by 2022, this is a significant contribution to the UK economy.*
Stefan Hay, chief executive of the National Tyre Distributors Association, said: “It appears that some in the automotive sector believe that only offering Level 3 apprentices will help upskill the workforce. This ignores the fact that for many new recruits into the industry an Intermediate or Level 2 apprenticeship is the most appropriate entry into the sector. Of course we all want to see the development of a greater skill level but those improved skills must be appropriate to the type of work undertaken across the sector. We need to recognise the fact that there are different requirements across the industry, from both employers and employees, but crucially, also from our motoring customers. It is vital that people make their views known and support the proposal.”
Noel Pope, managing director of Merityre, a company which takes on 10 to 12 apprentices each year said: “Over 4000 apprentices enter the sector each year, and although we only take on 10 to 12, they are the lifeblood to businesses like ours. It is vital that we can bring in the future generation at a skills level that is appropriate, and give them the opportunity to build a career on a solid foundation. I urge any business in the sector which takes on apprentices, or thinks that they might want to in the future, to make sure they comment on the proposal for a standard.”
Anyone wishing to view the proposal and make comments can do so via the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website. Comments must be made before 15 July 2016.