Now Ed Miliband sees apprenticeship opportunities as being one of his ‘national goals’, the schemes could be on the rise… Carli Ann Smith joined the students at the ground-breaking Honda Institute
With a minimum age of 16 and no upper limit, the already well-established Honda Apprenticeship is open to mechanics working in an authorised Honda dealership anywhere in the country. Up to 12 people can join the groups, travelling to the Institute for a week every one and a half months over the course of three years.
“We aim to keep the groups as small as we can so that we can give as much one-to-one attention as possible.” said Stuart Bryant, Apprentice Trainer.
Stuart was an apprentice himself and worked in a Honda dealership for five years before leaving to work in the British Superbike paddock. He then began his work as an apprentice trainer at the Honda Institute and has been there for the last three years.
There are 170 apprentices on the program, with a success rate 15% higher than the national average. Apprentices who complete the course earn a City and Guilds in Light Vehicle mechanics as well a first-aid certificate. They leave as fully-fledged maintenance-level technicians ready to work unsupervised in a franchised Honda UK dealer.
The teaching workshop is seriously impressive – walking out onto the top landing to see rows of cars, motorcycles, boats and quads all lined up perfectly must make quite an impression on the apprentices. “The resources make a huge difference,” said Stuart. “We can put into practice what we’re learning about and give access to Snap On tools and whatever bikes are in the workshop. We run trips throughout the year to the VOSA centre, Castrol oil and even get involved with a race team.”
The annual Apprentice of the Year award celebrates the work of the apprentices and recognises their hard work. And it’s not just the apprentices that are assessed: the last time the program was inspected in 2011/2012 by Ofsted it received an ‘Outstanding’ rating.
There’s constant confirmation and feedback to ensure that everyone in the room understands the material, and it’s very hands on – instead of just drawing an electrical diagram, the apprentices will make a circuit up and then have it demonstrated on the bike sitting in the middle of the class. Stuart gives real-life examples and recalls his experiences to give the apprentices the context on why they’re learning certain things.
It’s a great alternative to carrying on purely academic education after school, and offers school-leavers a real opportunity to be part of the industry with one of the world’s major players.
For more information got to www.hondaapprenticeships.co.uk/motorcycles
“I’m taking a motorcycle mechanic apprenticeship”
Joshua Boughwood, 20, works at CJ Ball and Son in Norfolk: “When I applied for my job, completing the apprenticeship was part of the package. It’s great and the resources here are brilliant – it’s good that you can put it into practice if you don’t understand it. The training carries on at the dealership as you have an ATDM (Apprentice Technical Development Manager) that watches you complete tasks. The qualification is well-known and other employers see it and respect it – it opens doors.”
Kristofer McAlpine, 18, works at Perth Motorcycles: “I really like the way that they teach you. It’s great that Stuart used to be an apprentice as he understands us. I left school after my exams as I wanted to be a motor mechanic… once I’ve done my apprenticeship I want to get even more training. The course is more than just the mechanic side of things; the Honda Challenge gives you the opportunity to learn about much more.”
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