ACT NOW OR LOSE UK’S CAR RESTO SKILLS
Specialists back plans aimed at training a new generation of classic restorers – but there’s an urgent lack of new recruits
Classic specialists are being urged to join forces to solve the shortage of restoration – or risk losing a generation of know-how vital to keeping Britain’s cars on the road. Changes in the way the Government awards grants for apprenticeships mean that at least ten businesses need to work together to set up a new classic restoration training scheme. Businesses across the country have said this week that they will support the scheme, but more need to come forward for it to secure government funding. James Szkiler of North Yorkshire-based Malton Coachworks says: ‘There is an urgent need to pass on the priceless specialist skills to the next generation. An apprentice scheme would be ideal.’
‘Apprenticeships will benefit everyone in the industry if skills aren’t lost’
Classic specialists are being urged to join forces in order to get a Government-backed apprenticeship scheme off the ground – or risk losing a generation’s worth of restoration know-how.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) has called on restoration businesses to develop a scheme to solve the crippling shortage of new specialists joining the industry.
The Government is changing how it funds apprenticeships from May this year and wants employers to lead development of their own apprenticeship. The FBHVC says that ten companies need to work together in order to secure this crucial funding.
Communications director Geoff Lancaster says: ‘Our intention is that employers will develop a classic car apprenticeship from scratch. The Government doesn’t want lots of similar standards so the trailblazer group will need to differentiate it as much as possible from the light vehicle technician apprenticeship that has already been approved.’ The FBHVC is hoping that after such a group is formed, it will be able to develop and get the new classic car scheme – covering all areas of classic restoration, including upholstery and paint – approved before the end of the year. It reckons 1000 new classic apprentices are needed over the next five years to replace retiring specialists. Jaguar Land Rover has already indicated that it will help to lead development of the scheme, but this week other classic specialists have told CCW that they would be interested in supporting it too.
Anne Asprey, training and development manager at RBW Classic Cars (formerly known as Rusty Bug Workshop) says: ‘ We were lucky enough to have received funding from the National Lottery to help take on three apprenticeships, but that doesn’t exist anymore.
‘Developing a specialist apprenticeship that meets the needs of restorers would be brilliant for the industry. We would be happy to help out and meet with other employers to make this happen.’
Chris Ward, operations director at Maldon-based JD Classics, also said that the business was interested in getting involved with the working group in order to safeguard classic car restoration skills for the future. He says: ‘There is a skills gap in this industry and as much as a specialist apprenticeship would be beneficial to us as a business, it will benefit everyone in the industry if it means that skills won’t be lost.’
Perthshire-based Classic Restorations is a long standing supporter of apprenticeships, and is interested in backing the latest scheme.