From education to employment

VW Van dealership kickstarts careers for automotive college leavers with Autotech Academy

A Volkswagen Van dealership, who employed three Autotech Academy interns, has highlighted the benefits of the initiative which has enhanced its workforce.

Looking to recruit skilled vehicle technicians, The Volkswagen Van Centre in Birmingham contacted Autotech Group after hearing about the company’s newly launched Academy division.

Within just three days, the Autotech Academy team had liaised with Sandwell College and Walsall College and arranged for recently qualified automotive students to be interviewed by The Volkswagen Van Centre’s Head of Business, Wayne Ollerenshaw.

Once vetted, three candidates were quickly offered internship positions and Autotech Academy, who completed all documentation and equipped the interns with a top box of tools and uniform, ensured they were ready for work in under two weeks: “I was extremely impressed with how well equipped the interns were, and their eagerness to start work,” Wayne comments.

Developed to create a steady stream of new talent for the industry and cut the number of automotive college leavers finding employment within other sectors Autotech Academy is being cited as ‘the missing link’ between colleges and the aftermarket.

Offering newly qualified automotive students a route into full-time automotive employment through a paid internship, Autotech Academy’s initiative is vastly different to the apprenticeship route, something which Wayne recognised immediately: “We have taken on apprentices in the past and it continues to play a part of our strategy, but as apprentices join us fresh from school, they don’t hold the college-learned theory so, understandably, it takes a lot longer for them to gain the necessary knowledge and skills required to carry out repair or servicing work.

“The interns from Autotech Academy all have the most up-to-date knowledge and are keen to put this into practice. While we have, of course, assigned a mentor for each of them to shadow, I am confident that in just 6-8 weeks they will be working independently which will support demand for our services.”

The internship period is set to end within six months, at which point Wayne has said that at least two of the interns will be offered a full-time position within The Volkswagen Van Centre.

“It is vital that the automotive skills learned within colleges are retained by the industry,” comments Gemma Edwards, National Sales Manager for Autotech Academy. “I am delighted with the progress the three interns are making so far and am in regular contact with them and the VW Van team. It would be fantastic if full-time positions are offered at the end of the internship period, but what each intern will hold is the experience they need to walk into another automotive position.”

Rajan Kainth, 22, is one of the three interns placed with The Volkswagen Van Centre. After qualifying with a Level 3 in Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair in August 2020, Rajan struggled to secure a role within the automotive industry and was repeatedly told that he needed at least 3-5 years’ experience.

Eventually he found work within a warehouse just to earn money.

However, with a lifelong passion for cars, Rajan was keen to become a vehicle technician: “I thought once I had qualified, I would easily find work, but realised it was easier said than done! I tried independents and dealer groups for technician positions, and even considered going down the apprentice route just to secure a role but, in doing this, I may as well have written off the last three years of my course.”

Rajan also commented that he believes just him and one other person on his course (around 50 people) have actually managed to secure a role within the automotive industry, highlighting the widespread challenges newly qualified technicians are facing.

After registering with Autotech Group in early 2021, the company contacted him after launching their Academy division.

“I realised that this was a great opportunity and, after starting with VW in August, I haven’t looked back. For the first 2-3 weeks both myself and the two other interns shadowed the other vehicle technicians. I was then effectively thrown in the deep end and worked on a cylinder head! While initially nervous, as the most I had worked on was breaks and servicing, the team at VW gave me the confidence to complete the work.”

While the team at The Volkswagen Van Centre are still overseeing and assessing the intern’s work, they are now working independently.

“At the end of the six month internship, I am hopeful that I will secure employment with The Volkswagen Van Centre but, at the end of the day, if I don’t, I will still have six months experience under my belt which is far more than many of my college peers have managed to achieve.” Rajan concludes. “The industry needs to commit to young people like myself who hold the theory but lack the experience.”

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