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NFDA promotes automotive with Drive My Career platform launch

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association

The NFDA has joined with its members to launch an innovative new online platform aiming to highlight the wide range of career opportunities in the automotive retail sector.

The National Franchised Dealer Association has worked closely with existing online apprenticeship and traineeship search provider Get My First Job, allowing it to tap into a database of potentially interested young people and target the potential workforce of the future at appropriate career junctures.

Speaking to AM after this month’s AM Awards, at the ICC in Birmingham, NFDA director Sue Robinson told AM that the automotive retail sector has a challenge on its hands to battle preconceptions and reach school and college leavers.

“It’s easy to look at automotive retail and only see the showroom and the salesman and, while that will appeal to quite a lot of people, we have to spread the message that there are so many roles available across the sector that there really is something for everyone,” she said.

“As well as sales staff, service reception and technicians, modern retailers have a huge back office operation which will include finance, marketing, web development and social media experts.

“There are so many specialisms needed by the industry now and we need to communicate that to young people in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time. We’re confident that Drive My Career will do that for us and our members.”

Drive My Career has been funded by donations from NFDA members, running in addition to their annual subscriptions.

Robinson said that over 700 retail sites were represented on the platform, which allows people to start their career search simply by inputting their post code.

One of the site’s tools enables those considering a career in the sector to chart their potential progression from trainee of apprentice right through to the role of managing director, a path that Robinson is keen to highlight is commonly followed from end-to-end.

She said: “Automotive retail is quite rare in that there is, and always has been, the opportunity to rise from the bottom to the very top – sometimes very quickly.

“Many of the AM100’s most successful leaders started out their career as apprentices.”

To emphasise the point, Drive My Career features a section dedicated to testimonials which see some industry’s leading lights share their career progression stories, something the NFDA is keen to place front and centre as it begins a campaign to fully promote its new venture.

Trident Honda managing director, Richard Roberts, was among those sharing his views of the sector via the website. He said: “Having worked in the motor industry all my life, I am passionate in my belief that the franchised automotive sector offers the most exciting and varied career.

“With careers in management, sales, workshop, and parts, each department offering very different careers and requiring very different skill sets - there really is a career to suit everyone.”

Nathan Tomlinson, Devonshire Motors dealer principal, started his automotive career in his early 20s and is now a multiple AM Awards winner. He said: “The Motor Trade can provide many and varied career options for younger people, options that offer a very rewarding journey and career progression all the way from grassroots entry to business ownership.

“Attracting young talent is vital for the future health of the industry so that businesses are able to grow and develop in-line with technology and consumer trends.

“However, it’s not a route that many young people fully consider as up until the NFDA’s Drive My Career initiative there hasn’t been a scheme to adequately promote the diversity, benefits or even availability of the many exciting options that franchised dealers can offer.”

Paul Bradley, Group 1 Automotive recruitment manager, added: “Drive My Career provides a central unified site for information on what is on offer across the sector, who is offering it, and where that initial opportunity can take you.

“Developments in vehicle technology see an increasing need for skilled technicians while changes in how customers wish to interact with our centres mean the face of the sales is changing.

“All of this requires young people to be enthused and excited about what is on offer and I am confident that Drive My Career is a platform that can help hugely.”

Robinson said that the NFDA was now preparing to roll-out the promotion of Drive My Career and was keen to attract more dealer partners to enrol in the project.

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