Bodyshops team with Gateshead College

North east automotive firms are revving up its skills base by teaming up with Gateshead College to invest in apprenticeships.

Big-hitters including Evans Halshaw, Hodgson Motor Group and Premier Truck Hire, along with SMEs such as Springfield Motors, Arnold Clark Body Shop and Durham Motor Services, have created three-year apprenticeships for 14 students who have all completed various courses at the college.

Their new roles cover a range of automotive disciplines, from warehousing and mechanical service and repair to vehicle body repair and production management.

Meanwhile, other automotive students at Gateshead College are utilising their skills by embarking on apprenticeships in other sectors including education, engineering and the built environment.

The apprentices will combine study at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics with on-the-job training at their respective companies, which have turned to apprenticeships as a way of tackling long-term skills shortages.

The north east is home to around 240 automotive firms that generate more than £11bn in sales per year, employ 30,000 people and export in excess of £6.5bn. The North East Automotive Alliance predicts that the sector has the potential to create around 10,000 additional jobs in the next five to 10 years – but this will only be achieved if an influx of new skills can be found.

Marc Madden, bodyshop manager at Washington-based Springfield Motors, said, ‘It’s vital that companies like ours have good succession planning policies in place. Apprenticeships can fill the skills gap left by the departure of older members of the workforce.’