Retailer Halfords has teamed up with the former Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer to launch a new initiative to attract young people to work in the automotive industry.
As part of the scheme, which has also won support from the UK Government, Halfords will add about 100 new apprentices to its team of 2,200 employees spread over 600 garages. Andy Palmer’s charity, the Palmer Foundation, will search out disadvantaged young people who may prove to be a good addition to the automotive industry.
If selected after being interviewed by Halfords, the company will then fund a two-year apprenticeship that will involve working at Halfords and attending college one day each week.
As for Andy Palmer, he himself started as an apprentice after leaving school at 16. He pointed out how automotive work has become increasingly skilled:
“We have a very outdated view of motor technicians in this country. Most people still think of Phil Mitchell and Kevin Webster. It’s a highly skilled and increasingly technical job these days, and many of the most senior people in the auto industry started out as apprentices, including me.”
There is a shortage of skilled motor technicians at the moment, especially for electric vehicles (EVs). For example, while EVs don’t need oil changes in the same way as traditionally fuelled engines, various fluids still need to be managed, such as the Castrol ON range of transmission fluid and battery coolant.
Halfords hopes that the apprentices will be able to join their team as employees on obtaining their qualifications.