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AM Awards 2021 winner: Apprenticeship Programme of the Year, Arnold Clark

NFDA chairman David Newman (centre) collects the award on behalf of Arnold Clark Automobiles from awards judge, Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University

The breadth of Arnold Clark Automobiles’ apprenticeship and training offering gained recognition with victory in the AM Awards 2021’s Apprenticeship Programme of the Year category.

In what was a hard-fought victory with highly commended entrants Gemini Accident Repairs and Stoneacre Motor Group, the Scottish retailer emerged on top. Read on to find out why:

Fourteen disciplines are ‘embedded’ into Arnold Clark Automobiles’ apprenticeship programme.

They cover a range of topics, from retail sales professional to electronic fire and security, with light vehicle maintenance and repair as its most important and long-standing apprenticeship.

Each, says the Scottish dealer group, provides new skills, knowledge and competencies, and enhance personal development. Arnold Clark recognises that to embed its long-standing values, to meet demand and evolve, “employee development is vital”.

The light vehicle maintenance and repair programme has been in place since the 1950s, with the others evolving to meet business needs, particularly since the 1990s.

Now the group’s wholly-owned subsidiary, GTC Training, provides most of the learning programmes, while also working with multiple partners.

 Each programme is enhanced with 10 additional weeks of practical skills, designed to improve competence and confidence – measured via customer and manufacturer satisfaction ratings.

Apprentices’ parents and guardians are involved too. An open event explains the commitment involved parties have made, offers a view of the workplace, the ‘learning journey’ and how the business will keep apprentices safe.

Arnold Clark works with assessors and coaches and has a team of workplace mentors so assessment is carried out thoroughly through such means as direct observation and practical skills and knowledge skills assessments.

Where skills gaps are identified, Arnold Clark works with external partners, providing sector-based skills academies, such as the Prince’s Trust ‘Get Into Cars’. With addressing skills gaps in mind, ‘development routes’ were established for existing employees.

These include valet operative to mechanical, compound operative to driving goods vehicle and employee to manager apprentice.

Throughout, Arnold Clark adheres to rules of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Skills Development Scotland, HMI and Ofsted, and aligned to its strategic KPIs: employee retention, productivity and satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

The numbers? Arnold Clark’s overall annual intake between 2017 and 2020 was 385. The expected pass rate for 2021 is 82% and the retention rate is 87%.

Highly Commended:

Gemini Accident Repair Centres

Stoneacre Motor Group

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