Bob Linwood, AutoRaise CEO, welcomed the group to Eyebox's brilliant meeting facilities in Coventry, owned and kindly provided by Rob Alley of XL Motors Accident Repair Centre, for this important first meeting.
Bob spoke about the charity's aims and aspirations: "Simply, we'll be the centre for learning, young people and skills in the vehicle repair industry," said Bob. He proudly thanked those "visionary" partners who were the first to sign up to support AutoRaise and who, again, deserve real recognition for their pioneering approach to securing "business critical skills" in this, the industry they operate in. They are: Audatex, BMS, CAPs, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, Fix Auto, LV=, Morelli, R-M and Upol.
Bob handed over to Indra Pooran, AutoRaise Training Coordination Manager, who provided a neat overview of the potentially complex and confusing apprenticeship funding mechanism – the Appenticeship Levy – which was introduced on the day of this meeting.
Next, Kelly Dalwood, AutoRaise Communications, invited input from the group following a presentation on 'communication to attract new talent'. Kelly shared up-to-date stats on users of the world's five most popular social media channels with examples of how global and local businesses have successfully 'won' and spectacularly 'lost' at appealing to audiences via social media. Applying this to the repair sector, the group had a frank discussion about what marketing and PR strategies have and haven't worked for them, with Kelly tasked to further support AutoRaise Affiliated Repairers using our ever-growing reach.
With three AutoRaise Industry Showcase Events in five weeks the format has proved a huge success: 500 young people and 490 parents have now attended an event and there are currently another 12 events in the pipeline.
Tanja Kuveljic from Belive in Young People (BiYP) - an apprenticeship and work experience programme that connects students looking for work placements with local employers – provided an insights into the grades vs skills and behaviours approach to pro-actively screening and recruiting apprentices. Working with AutoRaise, BiYP offers a structured and linked-up programme to help bodyshops secure an "active talent pipeline" of suitable candidates.
A partnership between Gemini, BiYP and AutoRaise has, to date, resulted in four work experience placements at the bodyshop group.
Open discussion continued over lunch was followed by a series of insights from Bob, Indra and a number of AutoRaise Affiliated Repairers who candidly shared their own apprentice experiences including best practice tips and advice. Kelly is compiling a series of AutoRaise Apprentice Case Studies to share with the industry - look out for these; hearing first-hand from apprentices and their employers is both illuminating and inspirational and AutoRaise is proud to shine a light on true talent.
"It was a great meeting full of energy that was very informative on the whole AutoRaise project with its very impressive partners," said Paul Smith, Managing Director, Fix Auto Loughborough. "It was a testament to the amount of work done by the whole AutoRaise team that have delivered a tangible and viable training solution for new young staff for the future of our industry."
"Having attended my first AutoRaise meeting recently in Coventry, wow! What a refreshing experience to meet up with very likeminded people all with the same aim," said Bryan McLauchlan, Operations Director, KC Autos Accident Repair Centres. "All passionate about our industry and in taking it forward TOGETHER - not just thinking about their own business - and really caring about the young person and how we can help them in their future and our industry's future.
"The future looks a lot brighter for what is taking place and being driven by all parties involved in the AutoRaise teams and partners," said Bryan. "Thanks to all present at the meeting for welcoming me into the AutoRaise family - that's how it felt!"
As a follow-up, AutoRaise surveyed attendees – with positive responses:
"Various speakers with different topics made for an interesting meeting."
"Good to be part of such an important subject."
"This was my first experience of AutoRaise and I have to say it was great, very informative and engaging."
This first meeting was such a success that AutoRaise is keen to continue the positive energy and momentum with further, regularly scheduled meetings to be announced in due course.