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Training: Nationwide Autocentres

West Midlands-based Nationwide Autocentres has the largest aftermarket apprenticeship programme in the UK with more than 190 apprentices taken on each year.

The scheme is a fully funded three-year programme leading to industry recognized qualifications.

To date it has a 100% record in offering jobs to apprentices who successfully complete the training.

“Our business is founded on supplying a truly excellent level of service to our customers,” says Ian Baillie, Nationwide Autocentres human resources manager.

“In building the foundations we recognized early on that our vision was reliant almost totally on the people that make up the Nationwide Autocentres team. At the outset, we committed to ensure that our team members would receive the best training and development opportunities available in the industry.”

A major part of this commitment was to ensure that young people were drawn into the business, via what Nationwide calls a Real Opportunities Programme.

Recognizing the depletion and deficit in skills in the automotive industry, Nationwide committed to ensure its business would make a real difference; an ethos which led to the birth of the Nationwide Autocentres Apprenticeship Scheme. It’s also an ethos that led to Nationwide collecting the AM training award in 2005.

IMI membership

Baillie says: “All of our apprentices are registered through our learning partner City of Bristol College and all receive automatic student membership of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

“When at college our apprentices enjoy the use of their own bespoke workshops and lecture room, and each facility has access to the range of equipment generally available in our Autocentres.

“We strive to ensure that strong links between work and college are maintained as this has proven to aid apprentice development.”

All apprentices complete a series of online tests at specific intervals throughout the three-year period and each receives regular visits from a college assessor in the workplace, ensuring that assessment of both theoretical and practical knowledge/skills takes place.

In July 2003, Nationwide opened its Academy of Learning, a purpose built training facility based at its head office in Solihull.

The Academy is equipped with a large conference facility that seats up to 70 delegates. It has a technical training classroom facility with adjoining workshop that is ideal for putting theory into practice.

The Academy has Quality Approved Assessment Centre status from the IMI, enabling Nationwide to deliver nationally recognized vocational qualifications in-house, ranging from Level 2 NVQ through to Level 5 (strategic management).

A wide range of training aids are available, including full engine test rigs and computer-based learning packages.

In 2004 the company made a £500,000 investment in its technology services. As well as providing extensive technical training, Nationwide has developed and invested in bespoke Omitec diagnostic tolling for all centres, plus 18 mobile technical support units all fully equipped with state of the art Delphi bluetooth diagnostic equipment operating from a fleet of new vans.

As with every part of the Nationwide Autocentres business, the Academy is measured on providing tangible results.

By year end it will have delivered more than 6,000 formal development hours or the equivalent of 1,000 man days, in addition to having provided technical support across the business, writing new material, delivering the internal mystery shopper programme and developing and implementing the Mobile Technical Support (MTS) programme.

  • This is an extract from an article in the December 15 issue of AM. To subscribe click here.
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