Eight apprentices signed up

Eight apprentices have started work at North East Accident Repair Centres as the firm looks to grow its workforce.

The seven body repair technicians and one business administration apprentice are the latest editions to the firm’s expanding team. All recruited and supported through their apprenticeship by Remit Training, the youngsters are at the start of their training and looking ahead to achieving nationally recognised qualifications.

Roger Collings, director of North East Accident Repair Centres, with bodyshops in Sunderland, Newcastle and Darlington, said, ‘We’ve always worked with apprentices, but most recently have taken on eight young people across our three sites, within just a few months of each other.

‘We have a mixture of some panel beaters and painters and two in administrative roles. It’s very early days for all of them, but so far they all seem to be getting on well.’

Also the chair of the NBRA executive committee, Roger added, ‘We’re always keeping one eye on the future because there’s such a huge skills shortage in the industry. The way forward is to bring people through the ranks and grow the business; then I think we have a better chance in the long term.

‘The problem of course is across the whole industry and unfortunately I believe it’s the perception of the industry that does it. People still work on old stereotypes of our industry and that is one of the primary problems we come across. We need to change perceptions of the industry and what it has to offer as a career.

‘There are too many young people going on to leave school at 18 and then heading off to university. University is not for everyone and there are so many other opportunities for young people, like the apprenticeships we’re offering here. We need as a nation to encourage more vocational training.’

With a strong heritage in the automotive industry, Remit Training works with thousands of apprentices across the country, delivering a range of programmes.

Richard Pitt, Remit’s business development manager for the automotive sector, said, ‘It’s fantastic to see so many apprentices taken on by one company. Roger and the team really recognise the positive impact an apprentice can have on a business, and the importance to bring more young people into an industry which will soon see the impact of the skills gap.

‘Apprenticeships have traditionally been the route into working in this industry, and I hope this continues to be the case. As technology changes and cars become more and more sophisticated, the work technicians are expected to do continually evolves. It’s so important to introduce young people into the industry so they can learn these skills from the offset.’