Monday 11th September marked a significant milestone reached for AutoRaise, the vehicle repair industry charity, as the first cohort of Gemini apprentices took their first steps into the bodyshop industry at Emtec College.
Thirteen starters, the first in a group of 40 apprentices taken on by Gemini, were supported by parents at their first day attending Emtec, part of Nottingham College.
Each apprentice has been provided with branded workwear (complete with an AutoRaise logo), a branded backpack, an android tablet for them to complete and store all of their coursework on and a green Gemini Green toolbox with a starter toolkit.
They are also automatically enrolled in to the company health scheme, have access to the ride-to-work initiative, introductory moped lessons and assistance with driving lessons at the appropriate time.
"Gemini's commitment to their apprentices has set the bar higher than what I believe anyone could achieve," said Bob Linwood, Chief Executive Officer, AutoRaise. "Better than that, they are happy to share their approach with the industry in an attempt to encourage others to adopt similar programmes.
"Emtec should also take credit for taking the visionary approach in putting this programme together. Their facilities are excellent; they are branding some work areas to Gemini when they have Gemini learners on site."
The parents were given the opportunity to view the hotel facilities that the learners will use when on block release; reassuring them of the care they will be given.
Bob gave a brief presentation to the new starters and said the day was "momentous" – not just for them but the industry they have now joined. "The Gemini programme has been achieved through the vision, commitment and utter dedication to give these learners a fantastic career opportunity of Dave Sargeant and his team, with a special mention to John Henderson, Technical Training & Development Coordinator at Gemini, who has been pivotal in putting the programme together with Emtec," Bob told the apprentices.: "AutoRaise are only 10 months old and to see that we have been able to impact in our own small way on what Gemini have achieved is incredibly heart-warming."
Monday was the start of a two-week induction programme for the new apprentices. "The real work has now started and promises to be an interesting journey," said John Henderson.
"Our industry took a giant leap forward this week," said Bob. "AutoRaise have a responsibility to shout about this from the rooftops in the hope of encouraging others to follow in the big footprints Gemini have created. Well done Team Gemini."
Andy Moore, Managing Director, Emtec, said: "The successful launch of the Gemini Programme is the culmination of a lot of pre-planning and hard work by numerous people working together to create a truly new benchmark for the industry. The focus being the AutoRaise Multi-Skilled Apprenticeship Standard which is a great fit with the Gemini approach to repairing damaged vehicles.
"Emtec has always been an early adopter and market leader in Apprenticeship training here in the U.K. and this programme takes the best of everything in terms of innovation and true employer engagement"
It's essential that the industry gets behind addressing the skills shortage, whether it be taking on new apprentices, hosting Industry Showcase Events or simply helping to spread the word.