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Jim Saker: Giving motor retail a new way of learning

Jim Saker

The motor retail sector has long been familiar with the concept of apprenticeships, especially in the workshop.

From the very start of the industry, experienced technicians have passed on their skills and knowledge, either informally or in a more structured way. With the advent of the Government’s apprenticeship levy, this activity has received a welcome boost.

Since the Centre for Automotive Management at Loughborough University was founded in 1996, retail management programmes have been offered from certificate through to MSc levels, both domestically and internationally.

Apart from one programme in Singapore that received support from its government, all of the courses have been paid for by companies or, in many cases, the individual. The good news is it is now possible to get a Masters- level qualification in Strategic Leadership for the Automotive Retail Sector using levy funding.

For 20 years, we have offered the highly successful Master’s degree for leaders and prospective senior managers. This course remains, but has been reshaped so that it can also be opened up to those who wish to draw down levy money to fund their studies.

The programme is not a typical general degree programme. The whole of the course is embedded within the sector and draws on the latest research and practices. Typically, people attend for three-day modules spread across three years. We avoid any teaching in March and September and delegates attend for between 30 and 36 days, spread over the duration of the course.

The aim has always been to deliver a bottom-line benefit while allowing the participants to grow in knowledge, with the confidence to challenge existing practises in what is a rapidly changing economic, legal, social and technical environment. 

We have found that this type of programme, with its interactive teaching style, allows there to be open discussion of difficult issues, and participants often learn as much from each other as from the tutors.

In a changing environment, we need to equip our existing and prospective senior managers to respond appropriately. Although many core skills remain the same, there is an increasing need to be adaptable and adopt different approaches. The ability to critically evaluate situations and come up with new answers will differentiate the winners from the losers.

If you are interested in the Apprenticeship Masters programme or any of the other courses that the centre offers, please contact Ruth Cufflin at or call 01509 228 839.

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  • aludford - 25/06/2018 16:07

    This course was most definitely assisted me in not only achieving the position I required, but also to look at the wider picture in resolving issues. Many thanks to you Jim, and your team, for their assistance and guidance in completing the programme.