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Apprentice centre at Thatcham

Thatcham this week officially opened an Apprentice Training Centre at its Berkshire site in its latest initiative to bridge the crash repair industry skills gap.

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.

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