Centre of automotive excellence becomes new home of industry training
A trailblazing scheme to train the next generation of historic vehicle restorers is to move to the UK’s first business park dedicated to the historic motoring industry.
Activate Enterprise and Banbury and Bicester College became the first providers to launch an apprenticeship and full-time course in historic vehicle restoration in September 2014.
BH photo for webThis summer the programmes will move from the college’s Bicester campus to Bicester Heritage, a centre dedicated to the restoration, storage and enjoyment of vintage and classic cars, motorcycles and aeroplanes.
It means that apprentices and full-time students will learn at the RAF’s former Engine Test House, located within the UK’s best preserved World War 2 bomber training station, surrounded by employers and other specialists from the industry.
Pablo Lloyd, Chief Executive of Activate Enterprise, said: “The historic vehicle apprenticeship was launched to develop the talent required to safeguard the future of this important and high value sector.
“The opportunity to locate our training programmes within the UK’s specialist centre for the classic vehicle industry is extremely exciting.
“Our aim is to offer apprentices and students a direct line of sight to employment. This move will offer them an unrivalled learning experience, surrounded by industry enthusiasts and expertise, and the chance to build vital links with employers.”
Daniel Geoghegan, Managing Director of Bicester Heritage, added: “Bicester Heritage is focused on the future of our past and, as such, skills transfer is a major pillar of our strategy. We are also delighted to see the Engine Test House, built in 1926, return to life so appropriately.”
The historic vehicle restoration apprenticeship was launched by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), following research which identified a future skills gap in the industry.
The UK market for vehicle renovation in the UK is estimated at £4.3bn per annum and employs around 22,000 people. But with nearly half of these aged 45 and over, businesses are expected to need up to 150 apprentices every year for the next five years to protect the future of the industry.
Commenting on this announcement, FBHVC Chairman, David Whale said, “The instant success of the course at Banbury and Bicester College meant that it very quickly outgrew the existing premises at the Bicester campus.
“The fact that ideal facilities, in absolutely the most appropriate environment, existed so close at Bicester Heritage was too good an opportunity to miss. It means that the students will develop their knowledge and skills surrounded by the very craftsmen they aspire to succeed.”
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