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‘The British car industry is one of the nation’s best employers’

Mike Rutherford thinks the UK’s multi-billion-pound automotive industry is the perfect place for many youngsters to start their working life

Opinion - car factory

What follows is my simple, timely, informal but potentially life-changing notification aimed primarily at teenagers in the UK: your country’s multi-billion-pound automotive industry needs you.

I’m talking here about one of Britain’s largest, most vibrant and diverse employment sectors, which currently provides around 800,000 jobs for Brit-based men and women, many of them youngsters. These countless jobs in and around the breathtakingly busy business of vehicle manufacturing, importing/exporting, selling/buying, transporting, servicing, repairing and more, are comparatively well paid and long-term. Britain’s circa 40 million drivers aren’t giving up the keys for their cars, vans, trucks, taxis, buses or coaches in the immediate or distant future.

Whether you’re a teenager contemplating what line of work to get into, or a parent, guardian, family friend or teacher keen to steer youngsters in the right direction, the not-for-profit School of Thought Automotive is the most appropriate starting point in the familiarisation and learning process.

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Automotive work experience is one of its biggest and most important initiatives this year as every employer in the sector is asked to offer a week’s placement for young people keen to sample life in or at a workshop, showroom, parts department, back office, diagnostics firm, body repair shop, accident management company, you name it.

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But School of Thought Automotive isn’t only about work-experience programmes that are, mercifully, making a long-overdue comeback. It also continues to help people into full-time apprenticeships – not just school leavers entering work for the first time, but also those seeking a career change or progression after an uncertain start, perhaps. And there’s an equally strong desire to promote paid internships lasting from six to 12 months.

Dave Reece is the highly respected industry veteran who founded and runs School of Thought. Its tried and tested training, qualifying and work-placement processes include motivating, inspiring and boosting the confidence of trainees, whether the jobs they seek are high or lower-tech, obvious or not so obvious, traditional or non-traditional. There’s an opening for almost every type of trainee, whether academically brilliant or just so-so.

The schoolofthoughtautomotive.co.uk website answers many of the questions that school and college pupils, their parents and others need answering. Better still, speak with Dave Reece and his team on their dedicated stand and demonstration zone at The British Motor Show in Farnborough from 15-18 August. He warns in advance that he can’t quite point youngsters towards pay packages like the lucrative $39million (£31m) deal that Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares seems likely to land, never mind the utterly bonkers $56 billion (£45bn) – honest – that Tesla boss Elon Musk might soon be pocketing.

But if it’s humble automotive work experience, paid internships or earn-while-you-learn apprenticeships you’re after, the no-brainer first port of call is School of Thought Automotive. Just ask for Dave. And tell him that I sent you.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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