Skilled young mechanics like Andy are a vital part of the future of the motorcycle industry.

Skilled young mechanics like Andy are a vital part of the future of the motorcycle industry.

Motorcycle Maintenance and Repair Principles has been unveiled as one of the new qualifications available from September 2014 for 16 -19 year olds, and is endorsed by Kawasaki. But what does that mean for the bike industry? Carli Ann Smith investigates…

As part of the government’s strategy to bolster the economy, Ministers have announced 142 Tech Levels, which will each be supported by leading businesses or trade associations. They will be level three courses – equivalent to A-Levels – for 16 to 19 year olds, aiming to lead students to a ‘recognised occupation’ and give them a clear career path. This change in the vocational training offered to students follows a report from Professor Alison Wolf which showed ‘at least 350,000 16 to 19 year olds are doing courses of little value.’

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One of the courses on offer is Motorcycle Maintenance and Repair Principles – a course which will be endorsed by Kawasaki. The Japanese manufacturer will be sitting on the ‘working group’ for the NVQ qualification as part of its involvement with the Institute of Motor Industry Awards Committee. But what does that mean in simple terms? Essentially they’ll be helping to guide the areas that the qualification covers and making suggestions for updates to keep it inline with what’s going on in the current two-wheeled retail and service world.

Minister for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock, says: “Our radical reforms are part of our long-term plan for the economy, and will mean that for the first time young people will know which qualifications are backed by top employers and lead to better employment opportunities.”

Companies supporting the courses in their relevant area of industry include: John Deere, Npower, Procter & Gamble, Arsenal FC and Kawasaki. But how can the bike industry maximise this new wealth of talent? Managing Director of BikeJobs, recruitment specialists in the motorcycle industry, John McAvoy told MCM: “Anything that promotes and assists in creating career opportunities within the Motorcycle Trade is clearly a good thing. As a trade, we need to be continually nurturing new talent especially in areas that require specialist skills and qualifications.

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“As ever, the single most important factor in determining whether an excellent scheme, such as this, succeeds or fails is the degree to which the Motorcycle Industry as a whole gets behind it. Looking ahead, experience is telling us that in the years to come, certain sectors of our industry may very well be facing a real skills shortage, the Technical sector being a prime example. To that end, we would love to see everyone from Industry Trade Bodies, Manufacturers and Dealers supporting this new initiative.”

It’s down to the individual colleges to agree with their local employers precisely how they will be involved in delivering the courses. But it’s expected that most Tech Levels will include work-based placements, projects and other activities organised to involve employers, and ensure that students are getting hands-on experience.

A number of motorcycle manufacturers have their own training schemes which are rolled out through dealerships, and are often held at designated training colleges and institutions. These have the aim of honing the skills of their mechanics for the specific models of motorcycle and the dealership/brands way of working. These new Tech Levels will provide a solid basis for this further training.

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It’s fantastic to see motorcycles being on the main syllabus for students. It’s now down to the students to take them up and dealerships and manufacturers to push it forward. Here at MCM, we love to see everyone working together to get more people involved in motorcycling – whether that be getting more people onto two wheels or fixing them!

Tony Carter

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