RAC addresses skills shortage

Article date: 26 October 2005

Motoring organisation RAC has launched a unique apprenticeshipscheme in a bid to develop future generations of technicians andaddress the ever-increasing shortage of apprentices in theautomotive industry*.

Endorsed by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), theleading qualifications body in the retail motor industry andpositively welcomed by Automotive Skills Ltd, RAC’sApprenticeship scheme has been developed to address the skillsshortage and provide the automotive industry with more choice whenit comes to developing their workforce.

RAC technical training manager Damian O’Connor said:“It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract talentedyoung people into the automotive industry, though the demand forqualified technicians is continuing to grow. With the RACApprenticeship scheme we are planning to address this shortfall toensure we have enough qualified, highly skilled technicians for thefuture, to meet the needs of the dealerships, independent garagesand all breakdown organisations.”

For more than 100 years RAC has been providing technicaltraining. Initially to the "motor servants" of the members of theRoyal Automobile Club and then to its own RAC patrol network.RAC’s nationwide network is the best in the industry, fixinga higher percentage of vehicles at the roadside than any otherbreakdown organisation. For many years RAC has also been providingbespoke training to motor manufacturer technicians.

The aim of the scheme is to ensure Apprentices receive thehighest quality training in vehicle maintenance, fault diagnosisand repair, equipping them to better deal with the ever-increasingcomplexity of new technology each new generation of vehicle bringsand the new challenges that the removal of block exemption willcreate.

This scheme offers flexibility with a ‘roll-on,roll-off’ 3½ year course, using a combination of trainingcentre-based activity, monthly regional workshop days and one toone mentoring. An assessment process allows the RAC trainers towork with the employer in selecting the prospective Apprentices, tomake certain the best possible applicants are employed andrecruited onto the scheme. With a higher percentage of the trainingtaking place at the Apprentice's workplace, RAC has been able toreduce the block release, which means less impact on the employer,a major factor affecting the success of other apprenticeshipschemes.

The Apprenticeship scheme will initially be available to motormanufacturers and through RAC’s nationwide network ofcontractor partners, many of whom provide service directly to thepublic, as well as providing support to other breakdownorganisations.

Chief executive, Institute of the Motor Industry, Sarah Sillarscommented:
"It’s critical that the motor industry recruits capable andmotivated individuals and helps them develop their skills in whatis an increasingly challenging but highly rewarding sector ofindustry. As the professional association for the automotivesector, the IMI looks forward to supporting RAC’s newapprenticeship scheme.”

James Holyfield, workforce development manager AutomotivesSkills, added: "Due to the increased technology found in motorvehicles it is essential that the industry attracts the calibre ofcandidates with the technical competence to maintain the cars ofthe future. Automotive Skills applauds the RAC's apprenticeshipprogram that not only address the skills shortages in our industrybut provides a broader experience for learners where they have theopportunity to be exposed to different parts of the sector and havethe benefit of receiving their instruction from highly qualifiedand experienced RAC trainers."

The scheme has already attracted apprentices from motormanufacturers Hyundai, Daihatsu and Kia as well as technicians fromwithin RAC’s network of contractor partners who visitedRAC’s Training Centre at its Control Centre at Walsall onThursday 20 October to mark the start of their apprenticetraining.

Commenting on the scheme, CBI director-general Sir Digby Jonessaid: "The RAC's Apprenticeship scheme provides much neededtechnical training. Apprenticeships offer benefits for employers -and young people - creating the skilled workforce essential tomaintain high quality service. The CBI welcomes RAC's collaborativeapproach working with a network of employers and providing aflexible framework to respond to future technical skills needs.

-ends-

*A current shortfall of over 15,000 apprentices
(Figure taken from the Retail Motor Industry pay guide 2003 inassociation with Sewells Information and Research)

For more information contact:
Tamsin Johnston
RAC Rescue PR Manager
tel: 01922 727434
mob: 07860 414007

Notes to editors

  • Motoring organisation RAC provides breakdown assistance andsupport to individual Members and Corporate Customers (fleet andcommercial vehicles)
  • Founded in 1897, RAC, the UK’s first breakdownorganisation, has been fixing vehicles longer than any one else.It provides a 24-hour, 365-day breakdown assistance to more than 7million motorists across the UK and has maintained a competitiveservice for over 108 years. RAC members have either purchased RACbreakdown assistance cover directly or have cover via theirvehicle manufacturer, insurer or contract hire provider.
  • RAC attends to around 2.76 million breakdowns a year in the UKand Northern Ireland and its 1,500-strong patrol network fix ahigher percentage of vehicles than any other breakdownorganisation. RAC Rescue has more 3,000 colleagues working out ofsix key locations across the UK, all supporting its members'experience, along with a nationwide network of 600 contractors and150 direct sales agents. RAC Rescue also has 150 colleaguesemployed across continental Europe who draw upon a network ofcontractors and partners to provide breakdown assistance tomembers when they are abroad.
  • Aviva, Norwich Union's parent company, recently announced itsacquisition of RAC. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerfulbrand and customer base with the expertise and leading position inmotor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance

About Norwich Union Insurance

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14 per cent
  • With a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • around 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.

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