Apprenticeship trailblazer groups, AutoRaise and the Collision Repair Sector group, set to merge with the shared vision to create, manage and develop the industry's technical Apprenticeship Standards.In the years between 2012 and 2020 the government reformed the apprenticeship model, replacing existing frameworks with new apprenticeship standards. These standards were developed by employers – vehicle repairers in our industry's case - forming working groups known as Trailblazers.
Due to the industries varied needs, repairers from within the sector found itself creating two independent Trailblazer groups: AutoRaise and The Collision Repair Sector Group (CRSG).
Through these groups the industry has five published technical apprenticeship standards available. A group of repairers formed the first AutoRaise Trailblazer group in 2012 focused on the Accident Repair Technician standard. This was followed by the development, by the CSRG, of 3 single skilled apprenticeship standards for Paint, Panel & MET technicians. Most recently the standard designed for the development of Vehicle Damage Assessors, by AutoRaise, was published in 2019.
Now several years on both Tom Hudd of The CRSG and Chris Oliver of the AutoRaise Trailblazer have, due to personal circumstances, stepped down from their respective roles of individual group Chairmen.
This bought Bob Linwood of AutoRaise, Dean Lander of Thatcham Research and Tom Hudd, NBRA and former chair of CRSG to the realisation that the time for unity was now. Once a new Chairperson from the vehicle repairer community is elected, all three will remain key stakeholders within the group as active supporters for all apprenticeship routes.
Tom Hudd stated, "At times it seemed like a mountain to climb and a mountain we did climb, we can all be very proud of the standards that were designed and implemented into the industry with the Governments stamp of approval. We must now ensure the industry continues the journey and it is better to do this together than in silos."
Since their introduction, all Standards have been recognised by repairers as viable and appropriate apprenticeships. However, there remains a need to maintain the process of managing and developing the Standards and End Point Assessments so that they continue to meet the needs of the industry. It is imperative that the industry secure every apprentice opportunity and that it uses all of these standards as building blocks for the development of a sustainable competent resourced sector for the future. Bringing together passionate industry stakeholders in a unified way like this will ensure this can be achieved.
As many will know, it was from AutoRaise "the Trailblazer Group" that AutoRaise the charity was born. Whilst the charity activities are and remain distinctly separated from those of the Trailblazer the charity has funded the activities of the Trailblazer group to support the delivery of its responsibilities. Where there remains a need for funding of trailblazer activity, the AutoRaise charity would take responsibility for providing these funds, within reason, from its own charitable funds.
"It's time to ensure the industry have and make use of all the apprenticeship options available" said Bob Linwood, CEO of AutoRaise "There has been a belief in some quarters that the multi skilled and single skill Standards have been in conflict with each other but the reality is that the industry needs and wants both and it's vitally important that we offer a wide range of brilliant apprenticeship opportunities to young people coming in to our industry".
The newly formed group, including members from both existing Trailblazer groups and some new industry stakeholders, are now going through the process of electing a new Chairperson and this appointment will be announced shortly.
Dean Lander commented "To ensure these apprenticeship options are attractive, fit for purpose and aligned for one industry it is an absolute imperative that the elected chairperson forms one group with a shared vision and value of all apprenticeships."
The groups first major task is to carry out a review of the Accident Repair Technician End Point Assessment. Work on this has already started with the intent to ensure all currently employed apprentices on this route have the opportunity for a successful outcome and a long and fulfilled career in this great industry.