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More apprentices drawn to industry

What Car? magazine may have done the repair sector a favour by making a direct comparison of labour rates and lawyers’ fees.

The suggestion in its latest issue that it would be cheaper to employ a barrister to change a car’s lightbulb than a franchised dealership technician got the desired effect – headlines in the national papers and TV coverage, as well as intakes of exasperated trade breath.

Even through What Car?’s maths should be treated with caution, the comparison could have made a few students think about a change of career. But they may have to join a lengthening queue.

The IMI, which has a 76% share of automotive sector training and a roll-call of 46,000 students, has recorded a 22% year-on-year increase in candidates. ReMIT has about 7,000 trainees on its programmes for Government-funded, vocational training for 16-25 year-olds.

“There’s certainly no shortage of people wanting to come in to the industry,” says IMI head of public relations Stuart Brooks.

“In November we had our busiest month on record with 11,000 candidates registered, most for Modern Apprenticeship schemes.”

The cost of training and vocational qualifications can be met by the Government, usually drawn down by the training provider. The dealer’s side of the bargain is to employ the trainee or apprentice in the first place.

The industry still needs to do more to fill gaps in sales and service and to ensure apprentices stay the course. But there’s no doubt What Car? will not have harmed the industry’s appeal to school and college leavers.

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