A training programme designed to tackle a skills shortage in the classic vehicle industry has marked a successful first year.
The first ever apprentices and students to join the two-year programme, which is delivered in the UK by Banbury and Bicester College and Activate Enterprise, marked the milestone with a visit to Bicester Heritage on Tuesday (1 September).
The students – a mixture of apprentices and full-time learners – enjoyed a tour of the site which plays host to businesses specialising in the restoration, storage and enjoyment of vintage and classic cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes.
The training scheme, which is backed by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), launched in September 2014 in response to an identified skills shortage within the historic vehicle industry.
A survey of 104 businesses by FBHVC discovered a need for at least 1,000 apprentices over the next five years, to replace an ageing workforce.
Brian Pallett, operations manager at Bicester Heritage said: “Because we were involved in helping to devise the framework for the apprenticeship scheme, in partnership with the FBHVC and the Institute of the Motor Industry, we were really pleased to welcome the students to our grounds and give them a tour of our facilities.
“Young apprentices will be the life blood of our industry and ensure its future. We value the relationship that we have with Banbury and Bicester College and Activate Enterprise, so were pleased to help foster associations between them and all the specialist businesses based at Bicester Heritage.”
John Kelly, head of learning for engineering and motor vehicle at Banbury and Bicester College, said: “We are very thankful to Bicester Heritage. The visit meant that our first year apprentices and students were able to see first-hand how their recently-acquired skills can translate into employment and future careers.
“Some of the vehicles we saw were extremely rare and significant in automotive history, so to get a chance to view them and chat to the experts restoring them was invaluable. It was an opportunity for our students to talk to professionals who are as enthusiastic about classic vehicles as they are.
“After successfully completing our first year of the apprenticeship scheme, plus our full time classic vehicle restoration diploma programme, we are looking forward to welcoming next year’s intake over the coming weeks.”