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 Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page - Tom Sey­mour

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.

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