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Lookers takes innovative training scheme nationwide

An awarding winning scheme to give young people a formal qualification in vehicle selling is to be rolled out nationally after a successful pilot programme in Manchester.

Lookers, which pioneered the Modern Apprenticeship in Vehicle Selling in conjunction with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), has now introduced the scheme to its south-east England dealerships and has plans to launch it in Northern Ireland.

Diane Pocock, Lookers training and development manager, said: "The scheme has proved so successful I now have sales staff who fall outside the modern apprenticeship age criteria asking when they can join. Even experienced sales people can see the benefit of getting a professional, nationally recognised qualification."

Lookers was the first dealer group to adopt the new national qualification with 16 apprentices in Manchester joining the scheme two years ago. Apprentices who qualify are trained to NVQ Level 3 in Vehicle Selling.

They spend time in every department of their sponsoring dealership and are expected to develop an appreciation of the management skills required in each department – as well as the technical and personal skills needed to work effectively in new and used car sales.

"These apprentices are learning the importance of the whole dealership working as a team if we are to achieve our goal of keeping customers for life. It is not just about a signature on the bottom of a sales contract," said Fred Maguire, Lookers executive chairman.

Six new apprentices have now joined the group to work in dealerships in Essex. They will be provided with regular support from the NVQ assessment team and there will also be regular training sessions. Discussions to extend the scheme to the Charles Hurst Group in Northern Ireland are underway.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Vehicle Selling is an integral part of Lookers training and development policy to 'attract, develop and value our people'. The company launched the scheme after identifying problems with traditional approaches to sales training. These included high staff turnover and customer-care initiatives failing on the sales floor. (November 19, 2001)

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