PMM ’s Kieran Nee attended the launch of the School of Thought programme in Nuneaton’s Odeon Max.
Ask any technician how they first entered the industry and they’ll tell you… well, they’ll tell you many different things to be honest. Let’s face it, there are literally hundreds of reasons to want to become a mechanic and there are many different ways into the industry.
Worryingly, however, one thing you’re unlikely to hear is that the career was suggested by a teacher, or that they heard about the great opportunities offered by the industry in school. Since the decline of heavy industry and the focus on technical apprenticeships in the UK, schools have increasingly pushed pupils towards pursuing an academic route, to the detriment of apprenticeships.
World of opportunities
Although many heavy trades have disappeared from our shores, many other hands on careers such as automotive repair and construction continue to thrive and continue to offer a world of opportunities to the younger generation. However, this is not the impression young learners come away with upon finishing their GCSEs and teachers certainly don’t do justice to the technical trades.
Hopefully, once the School of Thought programme gets underway, that trend will be reversed. The growing list of School of Thought ambassadors will be going into schools throughout the UK, armed with materials prepared by the organisation, and presenting the benefits of an automotive career to school learners.
Vizion’s Dave Reece and Autoshield’s Julie Eley have joined forces to launch School of Thought with the aim of getting the true face of the auto industry in front of school learners. Only when presented with the facts can a school child make up their mind about whether it’s the right career for them.
And, I hear you ask, what are the facts? Well, for starters, the automotive industry is a global industry, with opportunities for keen young mechanics across the planet. Anywhere where there are cars, there is work for a mechanic. The pay is, or at least can be, very rewarding. The aftermarket industry is made up of smaller, independent garages, offering entrants to the industry the prospect of one day starting their own business and reaping the benefits accordingly. There is a huge range of jobs available in the aftermarket alone, and the industry is rapidly professionalising, offering better working conditions and more opportunities for progression. I could go on. The list is near endless and individual desire and creativity are the biggest drivers behind how you shape your career.
At the School of Thought launch, host Steve Whitton of mental health charity Menable asked the audience to reflect on the sobering question at the heart of the problem: “If we have so many young people out of work at the same time that our industry has such a big skills shortage, what have we done to put them off? How can we improve the perception of our industry?”
At the end of the day, we can discuss the failings of Government over the past 50 years until the cows come home, but that won’t change anything. It’s refreshing to see a programme such as School of Thought launched as it aims to tackle the problems head on. This isn’t about playing the blame game, rather it’s about getting out there and into schools and making something happen. At a time when newspapers and politicians are seemingly incapable of doing anything other than pointing out the problems with those they disagree, School of Thought’s positive message is exactly what school leaners need.