Are we losing the mastery behind classic car restoration before our very eyes?
Something we touched on in one of our previous blogs is how quickly the automotive industry is changing in order to keep up with customer demands. Ten years ago restomods were barely on the scene, neither was the conversation around the electrification of classic cars, and you could pick up an Eighties hot hatch for a lot less than you can now. With the industry evolving so much, we are faced with the question: who will be the next generation of classic car mechanics and how do we recruit them?
A few years ago, the UK was struggling to fill the job gap in the automotive industry. To help combat this, manufacturers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota decided to restructure and improve their already existing apprentice schemes, along with backing from the government. Apprenticeships are a tried and tested way to bring new blood into any industry, not just the automotive sector. In recent years the number of applicants has continued to grow, narrowing the job gap in the industry.
Thatcham Research Academy in West Berkshire, runs a revered apprenticeship programme. It specialises in vehicle damage assessment and repairs, and as a team prides itself on teaching transferable skills that are useful throughout the industry, with some alumni having gone all the way to Formula One. Apprentices at Thatcham are assessed using both physical and written assessments, much like a university degree. The growing popularity of apprenticeships is evident, with Thatcham being a prime example. In 2004 the company had only ten apprentices, over two decades later that number has nearly reached 2,000.
In an already niche market, you would think it would be harder to recruit the next generation of classic car restoration mechanics, and you would be right, but all is not lost. Although many with the skills and knowledge are entering, or are already in retirement, there are a number of young mechanics eager to learn the mastery of classic car restoration.
There are quite a few forward-thinking classic car-orientated specialists ready to teach and nurture the next generation. One such company is Heritage Skills Academy (HSA). Based within the ever-expanding Bicester Heritage, which is the first campus dedicated to historic motoring and aviation. As well as having its own private training workshop and learning facilities, the students also have access to a test track, where they are able check how their handiwork measures up. Currently, they run 48 apprenticeships a year with an ever-growing waiting list, which is very promising news for classic car collectors.
Companies such as HSA are crucial in terms of passing down the knowledge to the next generation. Classic cars will always be around and it’s imperative to pass down these skills before they are lost. As the industry changes, so too must apprenticeships. Ultimately, we could see more adaptable mechanics coming up through the ranks, across both modern and classic car specialisms, especially with restomods and electrified classics growing in popularity.
Although we have touched on electrification in the automotive industry, we didn’t want to gloss over it. Instead, we have made this blog a two-parter, so be sure to read next month’s blog as we delve deeper into electrification and what classic car specialists are doing to change with the times within the industry.
At Marc Brunel Recruitment, we are constantly on the look-out for new talent in classic car restoration, as well as those with specialist skill sets. We work hard to ensure that the people we put forward to our clients are properly trained and have the right skill set for the position. Get in touch with us to see how we can assist you.
– Akash Cheeda