From education to employment

Car fanatic launches new automotive venture

A self-confessed petrol head is revving up for a successful career after launching a new vehicle repair business in Sunderland.

Luciana Parker-Jones is the brains behind the new venture, which she started after completing a motor vehicle body repair and paint refinishing course at Gateshead College. 

Based in Roker, Luciana the Lady Painter offers a wide range of car refurbishment services, from repairs to minor dents and scratches to a full body respray and polish.

The entrepreneurial 22-year-old has followed in the footsteps of her father Steve Jones, a former car paint and respray specialist, and is now busy building a client base of domestic and trade customers. She is already in talks with a car dealership to offer vehicle repair services to its customers.

Luciana, who is originally from Spain, also hopes her entrance into the industry will encourage more women to forge careers in the automotive fast lane.

She says: “I’ve always been interested in cars since my dad showed me what he did for a living. As soon as I fell in love with cars, I knew I’d end up running my own automotive business.

“I worked in a vehicle body shop while I studied at Gateshead College and then operated as a self-employed tradesperson carrying out work for local garages. As interest grew and I started to win more work, it was a natural step to start my own business.

“The course I completed at Gateshead College and the help I received from the tutors gave me the perfect launchpad for this new venture.”

Luciana completed a Level 3 Motor Vehicle Body Repair and Paint Refinishing course at the college’s Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics, where she acquired a wide range of technical and academic skills.

Students on the course learn how to remove, replace and repair body panels, identify paint defects and work with plastic materials and components. They also gain a broad knowledge of automotive health and safety, acquire essential literacy and numeracy skills and develop key competencies in all aspects of vehicle body repair and paint refinishing.

Katy Malia, automotive tutor at Gateshead College, said: “Entrepreneurial thinking is embedded in all of our learning programmes so that students are equipped with the skills and aptitudes required to run their own business. Luciana has shown that women can have a successful career in the automotive sector and we need more females in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related industries so that companies can plug vital skills gaps.”

Katy is leading a college initiative to encourage more young women to take up STEM subjects and forge careers in these industries. Recently the college hosted a two-day event, GirlsTech, which brought professionals from the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia to the region to share ideas on how to combat the low female uptake of STEM subjects. Katy also delivers workshops for local schoolchildren, introducing youngsters to new and exciting ways to enjoy STEM.

Meanwhile, Gateshead College has joined forces with Northumbria University and Derby College to launch the BRIDGE Project, a research programme that will investigate why there are low numbers of women, people from disadvantaged backgrounds, ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, and mature and part-time students enrolling on construction-related degree courses. 

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