It’s one of the fastest changing industries around the world, and a key sector for the UK, so it’s vital that young people looking to pursue a career in the motor trade are able to hone their skills on the very latest equipment to prepare them for life in the workplace.
Northampton College has seen demand for its motor vehicle courses rise sharply in recent years and currently has almost 300 full-time students and apprentices enrolled on a programme that includes subjects such as vehicle maintenance, accident repair and specialist courses dedicated to HGVs and electric/hybrid vehicles.
As numbers grow, so does the need for equipment. The students need access to cars, parts and technologies that will allow them to refine their skills and get them ‘workplace ready’ so they are able to hit the ground running at the end of their course and make a seamless transition into paid employment.
Northampton College’s Booth Lane campus is home to a large vehicle workshop, fitted out with everything you would expect to find in a fully functioning garage. It has dozens of cars, spare parts, testing kit and maintenance equipment. But it needs more.
Nicholas Burton, a lecturer in automotive HGV and light vehicle at the college, said: “With the number of students we now have, the need for more equipment has gone through the roof. Our workshop is probably better equipped than some main dealerships but the volume of cars and parts we require is so high.
“It’s absolutely essential that students get their hands dirty on actual vehicles and get to experience different types of tasks and vehicles, so they know what to expect when they take on their first job.
“With the industry changing so rapidly, and new technology coming on board almost every week, we need to be able to offer students the opportunity to see that for themselves. They need to be aware of the latest electric vehicles, they need to understand hybrid vehicles and they also need to know about petrol and diesel vehicles too.
“We have a course dedicated to HGVs as well and that is a huge sector in its own right. We are lucky to have a fully functioning truck, trailer and HGV rigs for them to work on but with the way things are going we are going to need to expand.”
The automotive industry accounts for 10% of the total UK export of goods, while almost one million vehicles and 1.6 million engines were built in the UK in 2021.
The repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles is responsible for 140,000 jobs in the SEMLEP area, making up 17% of all jobs in this region.
To help meet rising demand for its courses, Northampton College has appealed to local businesses and dealerships to donate any unwanted vehicles, parts and old equipment rather than sending them to scrapyards as it will allow the students to access different cars and experiment with a range of parts and techniques.
Matt Pardon, who joined the college’s teaching team a year ago straight from working in the industry, said: “I’ve been so impressed with the equipment the students are able to work with here at the college, which would be the envy of many garages around the county, but we are certainly in need of more – particularly around the HGV and electric vehicle sector as that is a fast-growing area and a vital skill for our students to have.
“We are fortunate to have good relationships with many local garages, businesses and suppliers but if anyone would like to get in touch to see how they can help us prepare the workforce of the future we’d really welcome that.”
To find out more about how your business can partner with Northampton College to help train the next generation of motor vehicle professionals, call 01604 734062, email Nicholas.email@example.com or visit the website.