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Scheme comes as UK skills shortage as apprenticeships fall into decline

In an industry first, Halfords Autocentres is working in partnership with 25 further education colleges across the country to help equip students with valuable experience, gain essential technical skills and get paid, all whilst they study.

Getting young people “work-ready” is increasingly a priority for UK businesses as many different sectors and industries voice concern regarding the challenges around a growing skills gap in Britain in the wake of a dip in apprenticeships which, according to the Department for Education, saw a decline of over 26% in the first quarter of the academic year.

In response to this predicament, which is projected to be exacerbated by Brexit, Halfords Autocentres has developed an initiative to offer part-time flexi hours at a selection of its repair and service garages for college students where they can gain on-the-job experience.

The programme was developed to support the Halfords Autocentres long-term talent pool but also due to concerns that candidates fresh out of further education are often lacking an understanding of the world of work. Currently, 180 students are taking part in the initiative, while 87 candidates have been hired since the programme began, with numbers signing up growing on a weekly basis.

Derby College, Northampton Academy, Heart of Worcestershire College and Isle of Wight College are among the colleges to take part in the programme*, which Halfords Autocentres is looking to  grow throughout 2018. Students that sign up to the scheme need to go through a full interview process and also receive the full Halfords Autocentres colleague benefits package.

Duncan Gurney, Head of Apprenticeships at Halfords Autocentres says: “Once you leave school it’s easy to feel like you’re a fish out of water as there are so many skills that you simply can't learn in the classroom. That’s why we decided to approach sixth form colleges to see if more could be done to help students get work-ready.

”But this is much more than just work experience; it’s about promoting an understanding of the things that really matter to a business, while allowing students the space to learn, to fail, to adapt.

Ultimately this means rolling up your sleeves, learning hands-on and working as part of a team.

“So far the scheme has been a real success; we’ve begun taking on our very first recruits and we hope to work with more colleges to take on many more bright students and help young people to get prepared for the workplace.”

Talking about the student’s success, Derby College’s Deputy Principal April Hayhurst said: “It has been an amazing opportunity for our students and I am really proud of what they have achieved.

“Halfords reflects our own vision to prepare young people for the world of work through a number of programmes and initiatives and this partnership is an ideal way for young people to get paid work experience that will set them up for their future careers.”

Saajeev Janagol, a former pupil of City of Derby Academy said: “We do work experience as part of our course but this takes it further and will help us all get to where we want to in the future.”

Faisal Mahmood returned to education after working in a call centre to fulfil his goal of a career in motor vehicle repairs. “This is an opportunity to improve our skills but also to work face to face with customers and to get paid for the work that we do.  I hope it will open doors for me.”

Halfords Autocentres, which invests significantly in its apprenticeship programme, has also announced its goal to increase the number of apprentices across the business by 150 places.

With a 20 year Apprenticeship heritage, Halfords Autocentres apprenticeships have an 80% success rate for the completion of the three-year scheme. The apprentices qualify with an NVQ Level 3 (Light Vehicle Maintenance) Standard combining learning with practical, on-the-job training.

To find out more about careers with Halfords Autocentres or Halfords stores, visit www.halfordscareers.com

* List of colleges taking part in Halfords Autocentres Programme

  • Bedford College
  • Bracknell & Wokingham College
  • City College Norwich
  • Colchester Institute
  • Coleg Gwent
  • Derby College
  • Durham College
  • East Kent College
  • East Surrey College
  • Eastleigh College
  • Edinburgh College
  • Grantham College
  • Havering College
  • Kingston College
  • Kirklees College
  • Liverpool College
  • North Kent College
  • Nottingham College
  • Openshaw College
  • Preston College
  • Retford College
  • Solihull College
  • Swindon College
  • Wakefield College
  • West College Scotland
  • West Hertfordshire College
  • Weston College