Nationwide, the UK’s largest dedicated automotive repair group, has today announced the launch of its new apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with Thatcham, the industry leading vehicle research and data provider, as part of a group wide initiative to ensure that Nationwide remains at at the forefront of technical innovation and excellence in the automotive repair industry.
Nationwide, which currently has 144 apprentices across the UK, has completely remodelled the scheme after carrying out a thorough review of the existing programme which included looking at ways of increasing support for apprenticeship and improving retention throughout and after their aining. This is part of an overall business initiative which is developing how technological advances are introduced into the business, how this information is disseminated, and how to ensure consistently excellent levels of technical knowledge and ability across all of the Nationwide Repair Centres and the Nationwide Mobile Repair teams.
The new programme, called the Nationwide Apprenticeship Academy, will be open to 30 new apprentices during 2012. Alongside the commercial and technical apprenticeships which the company has offered previously, there is now a dedicated Vehicle Damage Accessor (VDA) programme which will result in a MET qualification and an IAEA for the apprentices who successfully complete their course. Thatcham will be involved throughout the apprenticeship process from the recruitment process through to the graduation, and will co-ordinate the training element of the programme across the UK to ensure consistency. In addition to comprehensive resourses provided for mentors and managers, new recruits and their parents or guardians will receive bespoke information to explain what the apprenticeship will entail, what will be expected of them and how they will be assisted and supported throughout the programme. This will help to ensure that all the apprentices are able to complete their course, make an easy transistion from school to work, and can look ahead to an exciting and fulfilling career at Nationwide. Unlike in other industries, a job at the end of the Nationwide Apprenticeship Academy programme is virtually guaranteed – in 2011, all the Nationwide apprentices who have successful completed their course and wish to stay have been offered a full-time job within the business.
Thatcham will manage all of the on-site training provided to apprentices and also the ‘block release’ sessions out of the business; for technical and VDA programmes, this amounts to 12 weeks over a two to three year course, and four weeks over a one year course for commercial apprentices.
In addition to managing the apprenticeship programme and identifying ‘fast-track’ students, Thatcham is also tasked with linking this to the ongoing ATA training and accreditation provided in the sites and Nationwide Mobile Repairs, and assisting and advising Nationwide with the roll-out of technological developments, training and equipment in the future. Nationwide previously used several regionally-based accreditation providers, bringing it together will provide consistent standards, a consolidated approach, and will increase the speed at which the business can adapt to developments and improvements.
The Nationwide Apprenticeship Academy will include work based learning under the guidance of a mentor and the site manager, off-job technical training at Thatcham, and participation in a “Nationwide Challenge”, a four day residential course which is designed to inspire team-building, provide an understanding of the work place, and promote the great attitudes and work-ethics which are important to nationwide. Graduates of the apprenticeship scheme will be among the best qualified technicians in the automotive industry and will help ensure that Nationwide continues to comply with PAS 125 requirements, as well as bringing fresh ideas into the business and providing the managers of tomorrow.
Commercial apprentices will complete a one year programme leading to an NVQ Level 2 in Customer Service. The programme includes work based and off-site learning in administration, parts management and customer service. The Commercial Apprenticeship is unique in the industry and reflects Nationwide’s recognition of the importance of having qualified and motivated professionals to provide modern accident repair and help ensure the best quality of delivery and service to customers.
Michael Wilmshurst, Chief Executive of Nationwide Accident Repair Service plc said, “We’ve always viewed our apprenticeship scheme as tremendously important, particularly as it plays such a vital part in ensuring that there are skilled, enthusiastic and able individuals in the business in years to come. As with all area of our business, we continually review and improve our development programmes to ensure that our position as market leader is based on quality, speed and service, not just size. As automotive repair becomes more complex, and as our business model becomes more sophisticated to meet customer requirements, we need to ensure a virtuous circle of quality selection, skill and career development – and this is what we hope that the Nationwide Apprenticeship Acadamy, with the valued support and input from Thatcham, will provide.”
Thatcham Chief Executive, Peter Shaw commented “Thatcham are delighted to be extending the breadth and depth of our partnership with Nationwide Crash Repair. Our objective is to provide the best possible expertise and data to the repair sector and we believe our technical input will help to drive both the quality and the efficiency of Nationwide’s impressive operation. Thatcham takes great pride in the quality of our apprentice training and we aim to ensure that this new partnership produces some of the best new employees in the industry”.
The Nationwide programme is the largest technician apprenticeship scheme in the industry and career paths for successful apprentices include progression to all levels in the business.