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Course to create retail managers

A degree programme designed to help motor retailers recruit and train their managers of the future is being launched this autumn.

The Centre of Automotive Management (CAM) at Loughborough University’s Business School is putting together a Batchelor of Science course that will give A-level leavers a start in a career in dealership management.

Professor Jim Saker, CAM director, hopes the course will assist dealers in attracting sixth-form and college leavers by providing them with a guarantee of training in a range of skills and knowledge tailored to the motor retail sector.

“We all know that the motor retail industry needs young, ambitious people. We think this will be a tool for dealers groups to recruit and develop their leaders of the future,” says Saker.

The course will be delivered on a block release basis and is suitable for all franchises. Launched in September, trainees will spend the first three months in their dealerships and then begin studying in January.

Saker says the benefits to the recruit are threefold: their tuition fees will be met by their employer, they will be guaranteed continued employment on graduating and, at the end of the course, they will gain an industry-recognized degree.

The dealers, he adds, will gain a young manager who is developing high levels of competence and experience in all sections of the business, from sales operations and marketing to finance and human resources.

Saker believes any dealers’ concerns that their investment could come to nothing if their trainee moves on immediately on graduating could be allayed by including a two-year post-graduation tie-in in their employment contract. If this is breached, the student might have to repay tuition fees to their dealer.

Tuition costs will be around £3,500 per year. Dealers may also choose to subsidize accommodation and subsistence costs for the 45 days each year the student will attend Loughborough’s Henry Ford College.

Saker suggests these costs could be factored in when determining the trainee’s salary.

The Centre for Automotive Management already runs a BSc Automotive Retail Management programme for middle-management, with an operational focus aimed at driving improvements in their dealerships. An MSc is also offered, with a more strategic focus targeted at dealer principals and group management.

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