During National Apprenticeship Week, Employment Minister Alok Sharma visited PR Motors to talk with the business owners and apprentices employed by them. The visit was organised by the Federation of Small Businesses. PR Motors, a MOT testing and car garage services business, has experienced year-on-year growth since it was launched in 1991 and as part of that continued expansion has invested in recruiting and training apprentices.
PR Motors’ Operations Director Rob Butler said: “‘Apprentices are the life blood of our industry and our business. PR Motors is extremely proud of our apprenticeship program and of the 6 technicians who take part in it. The mix of college and workshop experience benefits the individual, the business and so ultimately the customer.
Having our own program enables us to shape a technician to PR Motors’ high standards of professionalism and workmanship. We have a high rate of retention of our apprentices and as a firm we certainly support the Government’s focus on apprenticeships.”
The apprentices Alok met explained that they particularly enjoyed the on-the-job training that comes with an apprenticeship, as well as an opportunity to improve their practical skills and classroom-based knowledge.
Jason, who has just completed his apprenticeship, said: “I didn’t really want to go down the university path and just wanted something a bit more practical and hands on. For people like me apprenticeships are a good opportunity to start down a path which turns into a career.”
Peter, a second year apprentice, said: “It’s been really challenging but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting my hands dirty and getting stuck in.”
Reece, a third year apprentice, added: “I love the fact that I’m mainly in the workshop because, for me, spending a few hours with mechanics who have been there and done it is so much more valuable than just sitting in a class room. The apprenticeship is the best of both worlds because not only do you just get to learn how things work but you then get the chance to take things apart and find out for yourself.”
James Anderson, Development Manager at Thames Valley FSB said: “PR Motors is a real success story, demonstrating how by providing practical expertise alongside educational training, both the apprentice and the business can benefit and grow.”
Alok Sharma MP said: “It was great to meet the whole team at PR Motors, and especially to get the opportunity to talk with the three apprentices and hearing about their very positive experiences of following the apprenticeship routes. Since 2010 there have been around 3.5 million apprenticeship starts in England, with around 7,000 in my Reading West constituency.
"The Government has also established industry designed degree-level apprenticeships which bring together the very best of higher and vocational education, and allow apprentices to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree whilst training on the job in areas such as chartered surveying, aerospace engineering and nuclear engineering. Apprenticeships are part of the Government’s wider strategy to transform technical education, and we are working with industry to deliver a technical education system that will provide young people with a credible alternative to university.”
Alok concluded: “Most small and medium sized companies do not have to pay into the Apprenticeship Levy and for non-levy paying employers, the Government will co-invest by paying 90 per cent of the cost of the training and assessment whilst the employer pays only the remaining 10 per cent balance. 100 per cent of the training cost is paid by Government for employers with fewer than 50 employees, who take on apprentices who are 16 to 18 years old, 19 to 24 year old care leavers or 19 to 24 year olds with an Education and Healthcare Plan.”