The vital role of apprenticeships in the repair industry
February 10, 2022

It’s National Apprenticeship Week. At Activate Accident Repair we’re celebrating our apprenticeship programme and reflecting on the positive role apprenticeships play in the repair industry.

We caught up with Dale Ryder, General Manager of Activate Accident Repair Leeds on his own experience as an apprentice, and the importance of attracting new talent into the industry.

Let’s start with your career – how did you get into the repair industry?

I got interested in the idea of working with cars when I did work experience while I was at school. I spent three weeks in a garage, and at the end of it they said there could be a full-time position for me when I finished school.

It sounded like a good opportunity and I’d enjoyed the work experience, so I joined as an apprentice panel beater. I did a City & Guilds qualification, mostly learning on the job but spending time at college too.

How did your career develop?

Fairly soon after I’d qualified a job came up as a Trainee Estimator. I applied but got knocked back at first and someone else was successful. A few months later the opportunity came up again, and this time I was offered the job.

Over the years I had the chance to take on extra responsibility, and stand in while the site manager was away. That helped me develop my management skills and I got my first chance to manage a site in 2013.

In 2019 I was offered the opportunity to join Activate Accident Repair and set up a brand new, purpose-built site in Leeds. It was too good to pass up.

Did your apprenticeship set you up for success?

Competition for technicians is fierce and I think programmes to develop new talent are vital to all businesses within our industry.

Apprenticeships are important in attracting young people and setting them up to do well.

I think we could widen this out to take in more mature learners too. I’ve seen great success in the past with programmes aimed at people looking to change career or develop a new skill starting work as trainee techs.

We know that skilled technicians are in high demand. What role do you think apprenticeships play in attracting new talent to the industry?

I think there are lots of benefits for employers. Obviously when an apprentice first starts a lot of effort goes in to induction and training, but the more you’re willing to put in the more you get back.

The apprentices we have in Leeds are developing their skills all the time and gradually able taking on more independent work.

The key is making sure they feel like a valued part of the team and comfortable in the body shop. We want them to be confident in what they’re doing, and ask questions if they’re not sure so they can keep learning. That way we both get the best from the apprenticeshi

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