It’s already been a year since Isuzu Truck launched its ambitious Advanced Apprenticeship Programme to support its dealer network in order to train young apprentices to become the master technicians of the future.
With an industry that has a population of maturing, experienced technicians, ITUK has seized the initiative to ensure that its dealers will be able to continue to offer customers the best possible service and repairs from a younger generation for many years to come.
The ITUK Advanced Apprenticeship Programme is in conjunction with Skillnet,a managing agent working with the government funding councils to manage the funding and qualifications of apprentices. Skillnet handles the recruitment of suitable candidates and makes contact with participating Isuzu dealers to find out exactly what they are looking for in an apprentice. Skillnet has a nationwide network of resources in schools and colleges, enabling the company to provide top-class candidates for each participating dealership.
For the ITUK scheme to work, the dealers involved have to agree to employ the young apprentice for a minimum of one year and, subject to satisfaction on both sides; a commitment of a further two years is required to complete the apprenticeship. At the end of the three years, the apprentices will progress on to Isuzu’s own Master Technician programme. The investment in time and money for the dealers is a relatively small price to pay for the income that a top-quality apprentice can generate over the 36 months of their training. In financial terms alone, experience has shown that during the training period dealers can expect around £65,000 return on investment.
In the first year Imperial Commercials Glasgow, Westons Cars and Commercials in Hitchin and Greenmeadow Commercials in Swindon have been participating dealerships. Imperial Commercials is an award winning ITUK dealership whose master technician, Brian George was on the world championship team at last year’s global competition at Isuzu Motors Japan. Gus McMillan the Service Manager says; “It’s so important to have this training, we need the skills of the future and for our technicians to be kept up to speed. It’s a long term investment and we’ll reap the benefit in years to come.”
James Campbell, Imperial’s 19 year old apprentice says; “I’ve always had an interest in mechanics but couldn’t get a break. I know what it’s like not to have a job and I appreciate the opportunity that Imperial Commercials has given me. It’s a lot of work but I’m learning new things every day and I’m really enjoying it.”
Josh Raymond, the 20 year old apprentice from Greenmeadow agrees; “I completed an engineering diploma to Level 3 and went into Light Vehicle Maintenance. I left when I got the apprenticeship at Greenmeadow for Heavy Vehicle Maintenance. It’s so much more than I expected and the one-to-one training that I get at Isuzu helps me go back to work and apply what I’ve learnt. We are learning so much all of the time.”
Josh’s manager, Stewart Thompson says; “The scheme means that Josh is learning all the time and he’s really keen to become a fully qualified Isuzu Truck technician.”
17 year old Ben Godfrey from Westons says; “I was planning to go to college but I’m glad I got this instead. I think the apprenticeship programme is really good, we are learning more with in-depth training.”
Richard Light, the service manager at Westons agrees; “Brand specific training is much more beneficial in the long-term. Every manufacturer has a different injection system and colleges can’t offer specific training. It means that our apprentice Ben buys into the marque and this really helps to develop brand loyalty. At the end of this programme we’ll have a highly trained technician for Isuzu. Investing in training and development is so beneficial for us and this reflected in our staff retention. We’ve already lined up our next apprentice for the Isuzu Advanced Apprenticeship scheme in the autumn.”
Tim Hicks, Head of Service, Warranty & Training Manager at ITUK says; “At last year’s I:1 Grand Prix in Tokyo we proved that we have some of the best technicians in the world within our dealerships. We are committed to ensuring this continues and our younger technicians are learning on the most up-to-date models on the market. The three dealers who participated in this first year of our programme have already seen excellent results. This will continue when we welcome the new intake of delegates on our next programme which begins in September this year.
“At least eight of our dealers have said they are interested in taking on apprentices and want them to join in with this initiative. There are so many added benefits to this programme, not least that all apprentices will complete our award-winning ITUK Care course, and gain a first-aid and IRTEC qualification. Apprenticeships are ‘jobs with training’ and dealers who join our programme will be showing great commitment to the future of their workforce, staff development and the industry as a whole. As well as providing great careers for a number of young people, we’re looking forward to adding to the existing team of fantastic Isuzu Master Technicians that we have throughout the country. ”