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Halfords Autocentres creating aftermarket opportunities with new recruitment stream

Autotech Academy and Halfords have come together to create a new recruitment stream, which has seen 10 newly qualified Level 3 automotive students placed across the company’s autocentres.

The two companies are working together to create as many aftermarket opportunities for young people as possible, with the scheme set to quadruple by the end of the year as it is rolled out across Halford’s 600 UK sites. The plan is to recruit and place newly-qualified technicians in paid interships. 

The pilot began in April, and has already led to the permanent appointment of one intern, Jabbar Hussain, within the Halfords Autocentre at Cotteridge. Many more are expected to follow suit once the internship periods come to an end. 

Halfords already has a number of existing recruitment channels, which include apprenticeships and working with local colleges to offer current automotive students work experience. The internship initiative is another area for the company to explore.

Aftermarket opportunities opening

“As an industry, we need to bite the bullet and create opportunities for young people, the talent pool we are all fishing in is getting shallower and we need to examine all avenues,” commented Andy Turbefield, Head of Quality at Halfords Autocentres. “We have worked with Autotech Group in the past, and I was interested to hear about their Academy division when it launched last year. It is certainly taking the pain of recruiting newly qualified vehicle technicians away and enhancing our recruitment streams with a minimal amount of investment.”

The initiative is also supporting Halford’s bid to create a more diverse workforce with more female interns coming through, increasing the aftermarket opportunities available for all. “We need to reflect the communities we serve, and a large proportion are women, so it is fantastic to see the percentage of females signing up for automotive courses increase. We just need to ensure that these skills are transferred to the industry and create opportunities for them, which Autotech Academy is doing,” added Turbefield. 

There is a fear over a skills shortage in the automotive aftermarket, and the automotive industry in general. A recent survey conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggested that 49% of companies harbour worries about skills in the marketplace. As the aftermarket transitions between old and new vehicle technologies, and with further technological changes in the pipeline, there is a real need to bring more people into the industry, trained to tackle a new type of work.

Grow your own interns

The concept in place is a ‘grow your own’ idea, where interns are vetted by Autotech Academy before being put through to Halfords sites for an interview. They are then equipped with a toolbox and uniform by the Academy team before being placed on a six month internship. At the end of this, Halfords can decide to employ them on a permanent basis or not, effectively a ‘try before you buy’ solution. 

Since last January, Autotech Academy has helped almost 200 newly qualified Level 3 automotive students secure a role within dealer groups, fast-fit centres and independent garages, providing aftermarket opportunities to a growing number of younger technicians who can help develop a garage’s options when it comes to vehicle technologies. Every internship is tailored to suit the employer, from duration to additional training. 

In the case of Halfords, the interns enter the company’s specific career path as a T1 with a view, once employed as a T2, to working their way through a career pathway that could lead to a T4 Master Technician position, or even into Management. 

“We enter the intern in as a T1 which is one above an apprentice level as, while they hold the theory, they don’t have the experience,” commented Turbefield. “However, within 3 months, we are seeing them at a similar level as a third-year apprentice. They become productive far more quickly, and an additional, full-time resource.”

While the pilot scheme has predominantly been focused within Halford’s South East autocentres, it will now be rolled out across the group’s 600 sites. 

For more information visit www.autotechacademy.co.uk

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