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Alex completed his apprenticeship in 2017.
Alex was on the Advanced Apprenticeship in Vehicle Body Repair and won the Outstanding Apprentice in Vehicle Accident and Repair Prize at the Leadership and Higher Technical Skills Awards Evening.
What was the highlight of your apprenticeship?
The highlight of my career so far was painting the Toyota Supra from the Fast and Furious live show tour (see photos below). The car was an exact replica of the car from the first film driven by Paul Walker's character, Brian. I even had to ring up a guy called Junior in California to get the correct painting process as it is a 3-stage pearlescent paint. The car has been all over Europe and is due to go to America soon.
What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
The best part of an apprenticeship is that you get paid as you learn. You also get the best qualifications in your chosen field if you climb up the levels. Also you make great bonds with lecturers and friends with other students.
Tell us about your current job
I currently work with my dad and I do all the paintwork - I'm head of bodywork and refinishing.
What does a typical day at work involve?
On a typical day I'm working on classic cars, usually MG Bs and Cs but I've done everything from Jensens to Jaguars. I do all the body repair and shaping up to applying top coat and polishing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I'd like to either be working for a prestigious restoration company or have my own workshop and business restoring cars and doing custom paint work.
Ben is on an Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair and works at Volkswagen in Barnstaple
Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair
North Devon Campus
“I originally trained as a plasterer. However, work dried up during the recession so I started thinking about alternative careers.
I’ve always loved cars and really enjoy the challenge of getting something that’s broken working again. I’ve spent many a cold night on my driveway working on either my cars or my friends’ cars over the years. I relax when I work on cars – it’s my way of destressing.
Volkswagen in Barnstaple were looking for a service washer so I applied; this was my foot in the door. I then became a driver, collecting customers’ cars and bringing them into the garage.
After a while I sat down with my boss and said that I was keen to retrain and progress my career, so he called the college to ask about apprenticeship opportunities. Shortly after I had an interview for the motor vehicle apprenticeship and was offered a place.
An apprenticeship really suits my way of learning. I’m much better doing practical, hands-on work and learning on the job. The majority of assessments are practical assessments in the workplace, along with some multiple choice tests and written tests.
I’m so glad I made the switch from plastering. I find this industry so rewarding, as you’re working on someone’s pride and joy. I’d like to see how far I can get within this company, and hopefully work my way up to master technician one day. Then, perhaps, I’d think about setting up my own garage.”
Corey studied at the Mid Devon Campus before going on to open his own business
How long has your business been running? My business, CJ Autos, has been operational for around 18 months and it’s going really well.
How did you see the business expanding in the future? We've only just moved into a bigger workshop with two bays and an MOT test area, so hopefully the amount of business will continue improving.
Why did you choose to come to Petroc? I was originally studying carpentry at Somerset College of Arts and Technology. I then got talking to Nigel Maynard – one of the Motor Vehicle lecturers at the Mid Devon Campus – who suggested I look into studying a Motor Vehicle course. I've always been interested in cars so in hindsight a carpentry course wasn't the best bet for me.
How did your learning at Petroc benefit your studies? The staff at Petroc were fantastic really went out of their way to help me. It was actually the lecturing staff which helped me secure my first apprenticeship, and to be honest I've never looked.
Which elements of your study program did you particularly enjoy? I really enjoyed the practical aspects rather than the theoretical bits. I wanted to be on the spanners rather than sat in the classroom, but to be honest it was theory I had to learn to develop my career. I went back to see the facilities at the Mid Devon Campus recently and I couldn’t believe how good it is; it makes me wish I was a few years younger so that I could have taken advantage of them.
What were the highlights of your course? The highlight has to be getting my apprenticeship. Cars has always been a passion of mine so being offered the chance for me to make a career of out of it has been absolutely fantastic.
What advice could you give to anyone looking to study at Petroc? Work hard and remain motivated and focussed. Also, if somebody gives you the opportunity to take an apprenticeship you should absolutely jump at the chance – it could change your life!
Callum is on a motor vehicle apprenticeship at our Mid Devon Campus
Case Study: Callum Macdougall
Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3)
Mid Devon Campus
"Ever since I was young I’ve been interested in mechanics. I loved cars as a kid, and so did all my friends, so I always wanted to pursue a career in this field.
When I finished school I already knew I’d prefer a course where I could learn hands-on, rather than sitting in a classroom. Originally I applied for an apprenticeship programming laser machinery, but this fell through, so I took it upon myself to go out and find myself an employer so I could do a motor vehicle apprenticeship.
I approached Auto Service Garage in Seaton and I must have made a good impression because, the following Monday, I started my apprenticeship!
There are many benefits of doing an apprenticeship. For me, the main selling point was the fact I could learn on the job – I’ve always learnt better that way. I love being able to watch someone do something and then try it for myself straight afterwards. I think I get the best of both worlds because I get to be out and about in a real working environment, and then come to college one day a week to learn the theory to back up what I’m learning in the workplace.
The facilities in the new Future Technologies Centre are excellent. The workshop is twice the size of the one we had before and we’re using all new tools and ramps and there’s always a really wide range of vehicles for us to work on. It definitely feels like a real-life working environment.
At the moment my short-term goal is to successfully complete my Level 3 apprenticeship. After that, I plan to take a three-day course to become an MOT tester and also do an air conditioning course, as this will make me more employable and open up more job opportunities in the future."
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