Tells us a bit about yourself..
I have remained in the body repair industry all my life. I started out as an apprentice panel/met when I was 16 at EH Ford Chorley. From there I moved to Vauxhall to start up and eventually run one of their Bodyshops before going on to open my own body repair business at the age of 24. I trained many apprentices through my own business and those apprentices eventually went on to train the next lot of apprentices and so on. In 2004 I sold the business and was asked to start a body repair training programme with Training 2000. During my time with Training 2000 I led the workshop training and became heavily involved in the ATA (now IMI) accreditations. In the years that followed I became a trainer for Aston Martin and Bentley travelling to various countries including Dubai, USA and Russia to deliver training.
Why are you so passionate about training apprentices?
When I ran my own business there was always a skills shortage and a need for new people in the industry. So yes I consider myself to be very passionate about training apprentices because they are the future and we need them. My hope is that they will have the same passion as I do for the body repair industry.
What future do you imagine for your apprentices?
The body repair industry covers a wide range of skills and apprentices can get stuck in to almost everything! Opportunities are limitless, certainly as technology moves on. It is vital that we keep moving with the future and apprenticeships are the way to do this.
How do you support your apprentices?
A typical week in my position will involve gathering information on what apprentices have done during the week and how they have progressed. I keep a close eye on each individual apprentice making sure they are working with the right people in the workplace, with the right level of support and are continually moving forward. When I can get out to sites (which is proving tough in covid-19) I like to get hands on with the apprentices on the shop floor. This is also an opportunity for them to show me what they can do. I also make sure to talk with the trainers/mentors so they are aware of the skills their apprentices need to develop in.
What advice would you give to prospective apprentices and parents about the opportunity we offer?
During my time with The Vella Group it is clear they invest heavily in apprentices and they genuinely care for their development and future in the business. Apprentices receive constant support from myself, the HR team, Blackpool College and the AutoRaise Charity so the support network is huge. As a team we want our apprentices to develop into capable people who excel in everything they do. Apprentices also have the opportunity to work their way up the career ladder with The Vella Group and there is plenty of scope for them to develop into other areas within the business.
The main bit of advice I would give to prospective apprentices is this;
If you have the determination and drive to succeed then this is apprenticeship for you. You don't need to be overly technical either, a little common sense goes a long way in this industry. I have been learning new things and gaining qualifications through my entire career so it really is an unmissable opportunity to be part of the body repair industry, certainly as technology progresses and we see Hybrid vehicles come to the fore.