A Classic Vehicle Restoration Apprenticeship has now been running for over 3 years at Bicester College. This scheme used what are called frameworks to detail the content of the course. When the course was established it was driven by education experts together with the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC). The content was based on what the college was able to deliver within its financial restraints but as a result did not cover some of the skills that apprentices might require when working on classic vehicles. For example skills such as basic machining were not included to keep the overall budget for the course in line with Modern Vehicle Apprentices. Despite these restrictions the course does produce good quality training that is specifically designed to meet the requirements of classic vehicle restorers. For the academic year commencing in September this year there will be over 100 trainees at Bicester College and a further 30 trainees at P & A Wood and at Emtec College at Nottingham studying the Classic Vehicle Restoration Course.
Government has focused on apprenticeships as a way of developing the country’s skills base. There has been a major change in the way apprenticeships are being run. The name has changed and they are now called Trailblazers but the fundamental change is that it puts employers in the driving seat.
The old frameworks, such as the one for Classic Vehicle Restoration, are to be replaced by new standards which are designed with direct input from employers, to ensure the courses meet the skills requirements employers need.
Work has now started on this major change to the apprenticeship programme. The first challenge was to get an employer led group to form the Trailblazer Group. With considerable help from Francis Galashan at Bicester Heritage we now have over 100 interested parties who have pledged their support for the group. Over 20 organisations attended the first meeting.
Why a change of name from Classic Vehicle Restoration to Heritage Engineering? The new Trailblazer standard is designed to encompass more than just classic cars and it will have more engineering content than the present scheme. With this key skills content the new standard and apprentice approach will be made available to other sectors where heritage engineering skills are required, including marine, aviation and steam. The new course will start with universal engineering skills and later in the course, apprentices will specialize in their chosen area.
The standard provides the foundation for a broad range of technical knowledge and skills essential to each of these sectors. There are expected to be four roles that apprentices can undertake following their training: Classic Vehicle Technician, Heritage Aviation Technician, Marine Technician and Steam Technician.
In all cases after completion of the training Heritage Engineering Technicians will ensure that provenance is established and that the heritage of engineering innovation, evolution, design and manufacture is maintained for future generations. In addition Technicians also need to be able to demonstrate a core set of behaviours in order to be competent in their job roles and complement the wider business strategy and development within the business they work. All this will ensure the apprentice has a long term career in their chosen sector.
The Department for Education through the Institute for Apprentices has formally accepted that the Trailblazer Heritage Engineering Standard is unique and is not covered by an existing standard. In order to demonstrate that the training is employer lead, the chairman of the group must be an employer. The Heritage Engineering Group is very fortunate to have Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) taking the chair for the group.
The document outlining the Heritage Engineering Standard will be ready for submission to the Institute for Apprentices in the near future, at which point the funding band for the training will be set.
The final stage, before the course can be run for students, is to set the standards apprentices will be expected to achieve and establish how the testing will be completed. This is the critical End Point Assessment at the completion of the course.
The original objective was to have completed the new Standard in time for apprentices to join courses in September 2017. It now seems unlikely that this will be achieved and therefore the old framework will stay in place for a further twelve months. All thise involved look forward to having a Trailblazer Apprenticeship in Heritage Engineering available for September 2018.