The recently launched Heritage Engineering Technician apprenticeship is training the next generation of engineers to restore and maintain the nation’s vintage vehicles.
Companies involved in developing the apprenticeship identified the need for these skills as modern engineering apprenticeships don’t cover the specific skills required to maintain older vehicles. Modern vehicles have computer systems and car parts that are readily available which engineers found wasn’t the case when working on vintage vehicles where new parts have to be specially made. Apprentices are employed from the start with organisations such as classic car garages and museums.
Prestigious employers involved in the development of the programme include Jaguar Land Rover, Heritage Railway Association, Royal Air Force Museum, National Historic Ships and Classic Motor Cars. Another major contributor to the new apprenticeship was Bicester Heritage, in Oxfordshire, a hub for the restoration of classic vehicles.
Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships, said:
“I’m delighted that this new apprenticeship has already been so well supported by employers, and is now well-placed to train a new generation in this important and specialised field of work.”
The new apprenticeship will also cover training to help preserve many other classic examples of engineering, including buses and coaches, agricultural and military vehicles.
Heritage Skills Academy, which is based at Bicester Heritage, has already begun training 24 apprentices. Its managing director John Pitchforth said:
“The heritage industry has for many years not had any new apprentices coming in. There is a massive skills shortage and the older generation of engineers have woken up recently to realise that there is no-one coming in to take their places. We took on 12 people as soon as the apprenticeship went live last August and another dozen soon after. We will have 38 by April. The skills they are learning were dying out with the old engineers, but now that is all going to change.”
Georgina Wale, a heritage engineer technician apprentice with Kingsley Cars, also based at Bicester, was full of enthusiasm about what she is learning. She said:
“I think classic cars are very different to modern cars because you have to use your brain, problem solve and work things out. Parts aren’t necessarily readily available and you have to think on your feet and work things out rather than just being able to just pick something up and change it.”
This level three apprenticeship was approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships in August 2018.
The range of heritage sectors covered by the apprenticeships include vintage and classic cars; agricultural engineering, aviation, bus and coach, commercial vehicle, marine, military vehicle, motor cycle, motor vehicle and steam, working in organisations as diverse as Global Manufacturers, Museums and small operators to small voluntary groups and individual owners.