Apprenticeships as a Recruitment Option for Car Dealers and Garages

As this week celebrates national apprenticeship week (6th – 10th March), we look into the benefits of car dealerships and garages taking on apprentices. For dealers who have ambitions to expand their service operations, have general staff turnover to manage or have workshop staff nearing retirement that they need to plan for their succession, investing in apprenticeships could really benefit dealers’ businesses.

Benefits to Dealers taking on Apprentices

According to government statistics, almost 90% of apprenticeship employers who were looking to achieve benefits for their businesses say that apprenticeships do deliver – including 75% reporting that it has helped their business by improving the quality of their service or product.

For dealers who want to take on apprentices in the hope that they will become long-term employees, it is encouraging to see the government report that 77% of apprentices stay with the same employer after finishing their apprenticeships.

Announced in the Spring Budget 2017, the government are also investing £500 million in new “T-levels” for 16 to 19 year old technical students, with them set to be introduced from autumn 2019. The number of hours of training for these students will increase by over 50%, which is likely to make them more “work-ready” than ever before. As part of the course, all students will take part in an industry work placement.

Coupled with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017, requiring businesses with an annual salary bill of over £3 million to support the delivery of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, this will hopefully lead to an increase in skilled young people entering the motor trade, particularly motor vehicle technicians, as well as other roles across dealerships.

Apprentice Vehicle Technicians – Return on Investment

There seems to be a strong business case for dealers of any size to invest in motor vehicle technician apprenticeships. The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), who conducted a study into the level of return on investment for automotive apprentices, are keen for dealers to see the benefits of taking on ambitious and keen young people.

The study – which also included users of our Dealer Management System and Workshop Clocking System – looked at automotive apprenticeships a cross section of UK businesses from small independent workshops and garages up to franchised dealers. The dealers supplied historical and ongoing productivity data from their systems for a sample of apprentices and apprentice-trained technicians.

It also found that “growing your own” vehicle technicians through apprenticeships actually reduces long term training and recruitment costs, and means that they learn company best practices from the start and do not need to adjust to differing company cultures.

The IMI say that typically within 18-24 months, apprentices will start to generate profit – and often within just 12 months. The typical ROI of an apprentice was found to be between 150% and 300%, and the study also revealed that vehicle technicians who were taken on and trained as apprentices by dealers invariably outperformed technicians recruited from elsewhere in the market.