Mercedes-Benz UK is considering opening apprentice training facilities in a number of locations nationally which would provide training to the independent garage sector.
The carmaker is in talks with the Learning & Skills Council (LSC) about establishing automotive apprentice centres which it might operate under a separate brand.
Mike Belk, managing director of customer services at Mercedes-Benz, told AM it proposes to open centres in major cities such as London, Birmingham and
Manchester, which would be run under a separate company and identity.
All would be supported by government funding through the LSC, and would be open to apprentices from independent garages.
“As a manufacturer with a great track record in training we see opportunities to expand our traditional offer out to parts of the industry on a wider basis,” he said.
The manufacturer took apprentice training in-house last year following the collapse of Carter & Carter, and opened the Mercedes- Benz Apprentice Training Academy in Milton Keynes in September.
The facility provides training for 430 apprentices across the brand’s car, light commercial vehicle and truck divisions.
Belk added: “This is us saying this is something we are proud of, we’re giving something back to the local community in Milton Keynes, and we can do that on a broader basis if the Government and LSC have the funding available.”
The industry must ensure it is able to cope with service and repair demands driven by the increasingly complex technology built into new cars.
Belk believes this will give vehicle manufacturers a larger role in partnering with colleges or providing academies to ensure sufficient training is available.
Mercedes-Benz is among 20 companies in the final stages of a current tender process to the LSC to gain government funding for training.
It is asking for around £1 million to invest in 70 extra apprentice places in this September’s intake at Milton Keynes.