BICESTER HERITAGE IS NEW RESTO HUB
Classic car restoration course moves to new home in major step towards filling skills shortage gap
A course dedicated to creating the next generation of classic restorers has been so successful it’s outgrown its original home.
Bicester and Banbury College’s classic vehicle restoration course has been relocated to Bicester Heritage, a nearby business park on Oxfordshire, specialising in classic car and vintage aircraft.
The course was originally launched in 2014 with the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs’ backing to counter a shortage of new restorers replacing existing specialists when they retire.
The new course will enable dozens of youngsters to learn restoration skills, but by the Federation’s estimates there still needs to be at least 150 apprentices signing up every year for the next five years to replace retiring restorers.
The FBHVC says the move will help plug the future shortage of skills in the classic restoration industry, which it identified. It also identified that the traditional light vehicle technician courses, used by youngsters to get into workshops have moved with the times and now teaches its students to diagnose faults using software, meaning classic-specific skills like rebuilding carburettors or wiring dynamos are disappearing from these courses.
Chairman David Whale says: ‘It means that the students will develop their knowledge and skills surrounded by the very craftsmen they aspire to succeed. The fact that ideal facilities, in absolutely the most appropriate environment, existed so close at Bicester Heritage was too good an opportunity to miss.’
Course provider Activate Enterprise says that relocating the course to the classic-friendly business park will give the apprentices a more direct route into working with classic cars full time.
Chief executive Pablo Lloyd says: ‘The historic vehicle apprenticeship was launched to develop the talent required to safeguard the future of this important and high value sector.
‘This move will offer them an unrivalled learning experience, surrounded by industry enthusiasts and expertise, and the chance to build vital links with employers.’ Kieron Fennelly
The FBHVC began backing apprenticeships two years ago to help combat skills shortages.