Car repair firm’s apprenticeship scheme hits the road

Client: Halfords Autocentres

Brief: New apprenticeship scheme needed to build industry standard skills

Solution: A pioneering apprenticeship programme to improve the region’s automotive skills base.

By upskilling its workforce, Halfords Autocentres aims to cement its position as one of the country’s premier MOT, car service, brakes, repairs and tyre specialists. In recent years the company has expanded rapidly and now has more than 300 autocentres across the UK.  

The leading specialist has teamed up with Gateshead College to kick-start a new apprenticeship programme. Apprentices will spend two years learning their trade and at the end of the programme they’ll be qualified to the high standards set by the Institute of the Motor Vehicle Industry (IMI).

The programme is part of a wider plan by Halfords Autocentres to roll out a national apprenticeship with the aim of developing the next generation of motor vehicle service and maintenance technicians. 

Apprentices will spend one day per week at the college’s Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics and four days per week on the job at Halfords Autocentres around the region, where they’ll work with experienced mentors and be supported by the college’s team. They’ll end up with a range of useful skills, as well as knowledge of effective vehicle maintenance and diagnostics, customer service and hybrid technology. 

Dave Nichols, Halfords’ apprenticeship and trainee relationship advisor, has first-hand experience of just how valuable an apprenticeship can be in fast-tracking the careers of young people and the growth of local businesses. He started out as an apprentice and worked his way up the career ladder at Halfords Autocentres; now he’s responsible for developing new talent at the company.  

He says: “I can personally say that our apprenticeships work. For this new programme, we’ll be training our apprentices to an industry-defined standard, ensuring we get the skills we need to make our business even more successful. 

“Gateshead College was the ideal choice to deliver the training. What really stood out was their ability to quickly understand the needs of our business and the challenges we face both now and in the future. This has given us confidence that the learning programme they’ve created for us will support our growth plans. 

“Not only that, their track record, outstanding Ofsted rating and excellent facilities were all ticks in the box when we were choosing someone to partner with.”