Investment in skills and opportunity for the future is the driving force behind a new apprentice patrol academy being launched by the RAC and Barking and Dagenham College.
The RAC and the college worked in partnership to develop a rigorous recruitment process to identify the six new mechanical technicians.
The new recruits will now undergo a two year apprenticeship programme to give them the same high level technical skills as fully qualified RAC Patrols.
The six will embark on an NVQ Level 2 apprenticeship in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, studying at the college’s Rush Green campus one day a week, and plan to move up to the Level 3 apprenticeship.
On top of the apprenticeship training programme the new recruits will receive 20 weeks’ RAC training, benefitting from the hands-on experience of being on the road with an RAC mentor.
Project manager Simon Cooper is overseeing the roll-out of the scheme while Matthew Woodbridge is managing the day-to-day training.
Cooper explained: “This is something we’ve been looking at for a while because we recognise there is a lack of people with the skillset necessary for this kind of job.
“Not only do you have to be very highly skilled as a technician, but also be able to manage customers and deal with some potentially difficult situations.
“We chose Barking and Dagenham College as our partners as they came highly recommended as one of London’s leading apprenticeship providers.
“Their top-to-bottom client support has been crucial in helping us identify and recruit the best candidates and get them on board with their training as quickly as possible.
“It’s a bit of a generalisation but quite often young people go into the industry and can work in a garage where they don’t have very much to do with customers at all. So it’s quite a unique combination that we require.
“This academy will enable the RAC to nurture young people and expand their skillset to deliver the very best of that unique combination our customers require.”
The six apprentices, aged 18 to 23-years-old, spent their first week on a five day induction course at the RAC’s training centre in Harlow, Essex, before heading out on the road with their mentor patrols from September 1.
All six will be based in the Greater London area for the duration of the two year scheme, but the RAC expects to roll out the initiative on a nationwide basis once the London trial has proven to be successful.
Cooper added: “This is a pilot scheme to a certain extent, but we are confident that it will go well. We will take our learnings from this year and adapt to enable us to extend it across the country next year.
“The apprentices will receive a great combination of skills and training and after two years will have the same skillset as fully fledged RAC Patrols.”
Yvonne Kelly, acting principal and CEO at Barking and Dagenham College added: “We are delighted that the RAC has chosen us as their partner in their new academy.
“This area of East London is synonymous with the automotive industry, so it seems fitting that the College is helping these young apprentices develop the high level technical skills they need for a successful career with such a trusted UK motoring organisation.”