The 1,000sq.m. centre aims to offer a unique learning environment using the latest technology.
The organisation already runs an apprentice programme, to which the UK Assistance Accident Repair Centres (UKAARC) – the Royal Bank of Scotland owned bodyshop chain – signed up at the beginning of the year.
Iain Wallace, communications director for Thatcham, says: “It was due to the popularity of our existing apprentice programme that we felt it was appropriate to open a dedicated centre.”
Students will attend the centre for two-week stints, four times a year. This way, Thatcham believes the trainees will be able to demonstrate tangible improvements in ability when they return to their employers.
Three course are open to trainees: body fitter, body refurbisher and body repairer. The body fitting course lasts for two years, the others are three-year courses. All programmes consist of a mixture of practical learning and examinations, plus basic skills like maths and English.
The centre can accommodate 60 apprentices and represents a £0.25m investment by insurers. There are currently 300 registered apprentices.