22 May 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

RAC Academy graduates get keys to career success

Eight apprentices from the RAC Academy have celebrated their graduation to roadside patrol at a ceremony in the West Midlands.

The motoring services company announced today that the new cohort of RAC patrols secured the keys to their future after completing a 30-month apprenticeship scheme.

Patrol mentors, college staff and academy managers took part in the graduation ceremony in Walsall this week.

The apprenticeship academy, originally set up in 2015, was relaunched by the RAC in November 2021 in a bid to tackle the skills gap in the automotive industry, which is expected to hit a shortfall of nearly 160,000 vacancies by 2031, said the RAC citing Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) figures.

Under the new scheme, the RAC has partnered a series of colleges to coordinate the application process, interviewing candidates for the positions and conducting on-the-job training.

In turn, the RAC provides dedicated mentors and managers to oversee the programme, ensuring the apprentices gain the skills and support they need to become fully fledged patrols with the breakdown provider. 

The first eight graduates completed their level 2 vehicle and maintenance repair apprenticeships at North London garages in Enfield, working three weeks in a month at the roadside and one week in the classroom.

The new patrols (pictured, from left) are Praneeth Rajapakse, Zaahir Patel, Tyreiss Burton, Haseeb Patel, Kiesha Corbin, Ronaldo Powlette, Jamie Riaz and James Barrall.

Corbin, who joined the academy to change careers after working as a nursery deputy for 10 years, said: “The best part is no two days are the same — at first you start out attending tow work and as you complete units on the course the issues get more complex.

“The training and support is fantastic and even though you’re out on your own in the van, you will always have support from your manager, mentor, apprentice peers and technical staff.” 

Academy manager Tony Cullum said: “As long as there are cars on the road there’ll be a need for roadside technicians, so we want to help as many people as possible find their keys to success.”

The academy currently has 82 apprentices with courses either completed or in progress across eight different cohorts at North London garages and the S&B Automotive Academy, Bristol.

Aftermarket reported last month on new analysis from the IMI that showed vacancies in the automotive aftermarket remain stubbornly high at 23,000 — highlighting the need to ramp up recruitment in the sector.

Photo: Roy Kilcullen