The next generation of auto body repair professionals learned tricks of the trade from 3M experts at an apprentice open day hosted by Alton Cars. 3M co-sponsored the event to help achieve the companies’ shared goal of inspiring youngsters to enter the accident repair industry.
Organisers hailed the day a huge success, with around 400 budding enthusiasts aged 15 to 18 attending Alton Cars’ head office in Leeds on Saturday, 11 March.
At the 3M trade stand, the teenagers tried their hand at polishing and finishing vehicle panels, as well as colour-matching, using industry-standard equipment and products, led by the company’s technical experts.
Elsewhere at the event, they also had a go at everything from welding and riveting to mechanical, electrical and trim work, as well learning about other areas of the trade, such as customer service and price estimating.
Helen Marsden, 3M key account manager for Alton Cars, said: “We know how important apprentice schemes are to both young people and employers, so we want to do everything we can to encourage them – something we also do through our partnership with the organisation WorldSkills.
“Unfortunately, the number of young people entering the accident repair industry has been in decline in recent years, so when Alton Cars asked us if we could help with this event we were only too happy to do so.
“It was really encouraging to see so many young people so enthusiastic about the trade. Everyone seemed to really enjoy being hands-on and testing the equipment. I have no doubt that many of them will have bright futures in this profession.”
The apprentice open day was the first such event to be held by Alton Cars, which operates 10 accident repair centres across Yorkshire, Humberside, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
The company employs 265 people, including 12 apprentices, and is looking to hire up to another 25 apprentices this year. A total of 137 attendees at the event registered their interest.
Neilson Jones, group commercial director at Alton Cars Group, said: “There’s been a lack of investment in apprentices across the industry recently, but we’ve realised it’s time to devote more resources to this, in order to assure the longevity of our business. “Our apprentice open day was an amazing event with a great turnout, and we’re extremely grateful to 3M for their involvement.”