A campaign by the National Franchised Retailers to promote a greater understanding of automotive retail saw the Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP step into the showroom at Inchcape Volkswagen in Twickenham.
AM joined the NFDA for the visit of Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, chairman of the government's Treasury Select Committee and MP for Loughborough, to Inchcape’s Mercedes-Benz Loughborough dealership in August last year and more MPs are now taking up similar invites.
Vince Cable swapped Westminster for the workshop when he experienced life at Inchcape’s Volkswagen car dealership in Twickenham last Friday and Bristol Street Motors’ Ford showroom in Stroud welcomed David Drew, MP for Stroud.
Sue Robinson, NFDA director, was on hand to meet Vince Cable to discuss topics including apprenticeship schemes, the investments motor retail groups make to satisfy manufacturer demands and other challenges facing the industry.
Robinson said: “The visit provided an ideal opportunity to discuss some of the main issues affecting our sector.
“In particular, it was encouraging to see the commitment of both retailers and Government to promote to young people the number of employment opportunities available within the industry and increase diversity."
Shaun Kirby, Inchcape Volkswagen general manager, said he was “delighted to meet and show Sir Vince Cable around”, adding: “It was a pleasure to talk to him about the company and how we operate.”
Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP, said, "It was a pleasure to meet a local employer and see that they are investing in people and using the latest technologies to enhance consumer demand. The visit helped me obtain further insight into the industry and understand the priorities of the sector."
David Drew, MP for Stroud, visited Bristol Street Motors Stroud Ford as part of the NFDA’s campaign.
During his visit to the London Road dealership, Drew spoke to the team working across all areas of the business, including sales and servicing, about their day-to-day roles, how the workplace has changed over recent years and how it might further develop in the future.
He also met with Jim Higgins, Ford regional director for Bristol Street Motors’, to discuss how Vertu Motors plc, which owns Bristol Street Motors, is recruiting a workforce for the future by investing in talent through continued training opportunities across all areas and its industry-leading degree level apprenticeship scheme.
Higgins, said: “We are very pleased to be able to support the NFDA’s ambition to provide politicians with a greater understanding of the sector.
“The automotive industry is a vital part of the country’s economy, providing thousands of people with employment and contributing billions of pounds in taxation.
“David Drew MP was very keen to speak with our colleagues about their work and learn more about how our parent company, Vertu Motors plc, is investing in training to make sure we have the knowledge and skills needed as the motor industry continues to change.
“He was particularly interested to hear how our degree-level apprentice scheme is supporting young people to gain an undergraduate degree alongside high quality work place experience, without the debt associated with attending university, together with our wider technical apprentice programmes.
“I hope the visit was useful for him and he takes away a positive message about how businesses like ours are innovating and investing in people in order to contribute to the country’s economy for many years to come.”
David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, said: “I enjoyed an informative visit to Bristol Street Motors, and was particularly interested to find out more about the different apprentice schemes they offer.
“These kinds of innovative approaches to education and training are vital to our economy, as well as broadening opportunities for young people.”