Independent commercial repair specialist Sapphire Vehicle Services has found an answer to the difficulty of recruiting qualified truck maintenance specialists by launching a course to give car and van technicians the skills they need to look after HGVs.
The company’s first intake of six candidates are nearing the end of their training and, according to group operations manager, Dave Williams, plans are already in place to repeat the exercise.
“We’re always on the lookout for competent and experienced truck technicians but there’s a shortage of qualified people across the country,” he said. “So we decided to be proactive and train our own.”
Sapphire already runs a successful apprenticeship programme aimed at candidates entering the industry for the first time, but the new scheme runs alongside that and aims to provide a quicker fix.
“We’re taking car and van technicians who are already level-three qualified, and giving them an intensive, one-year course to equip them with the specialised knowledge and skills to work on heavy vehicles,” Williams explained.
The six started their training in February and will complete six one-week blocks across a 12-month period before a final assessment. All are working full-time in Sapphire workshops – in Bedford, Dartford, Northampton and East Kilbride – and hopes are high that all will pass.
One of two trainee technicians based at Sapphire’s Northampton depot is 31-year-old Isaac Adusei, who has eight years’ experience working on cars and vans.
“I’ve always been interested in developing my skill set and learning more about different vehicle classes, so the opportunity to join this programme was certainly attractive,” he said. “Since joining I’ve already achieved my BPW Axles certification and am keen to carry on my training, even after this course is finished.
“I’ve also been really impressed with the set-up at Sapphire, where there is a very positive emphasis on staff development. I’ve been supported all the way, with mentoring from depot manager Garry Craddock and colleagues, and am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified member of the team.”
Williams added: “Isaac and fellow Northampton trainee Tom Saunders have really grasped the opportunity we’ve given them – but so have all six of the guys we recruited for this initiative. We’ll continue to look for imaginative ways to boost our staff with top-quality people, but the upskilling programme has certainly been a success.”