Halfords and Derby college step up drive to help young people get ‘work ready’

Three students from Derby College are amongst the first to join an innovative partnership with Halfords Autocentres to enable them to gain valuable work experience, gain essential technical skills and earn a wage whilst they study.
In an industry first, Halfords Autocentres is working in partnership with 25 further education colleges across the country to get young people ‘work ready’ and address growing skills gaps in the industry.
Three Motor Vehicle level 3 students, based at the College’s Roundhouse campus in Pride Park, have clinched flexi part time work with Halfords Autocentres after successful work trials and interviews.
Faisal Mahmood (24) from Normanton and Saajeev Janagol (19) from Stenson Fields are working one day a week at Halfords’ repair and service centre in the Wyvern and Joseph McAndrew (17) from Allestree is based at the London Road centre. (pictured left to right)
All three will continue their studies at the College until this summer and have their sights set on gaining jobs or apprenticeships in the motor vehicle repairs industry.
Duncan Gurney, Head of Apprenticeships at Halfords Autocentres, explained that getting young people “work-ready” was increasingly a priority for UK businesses as many different sectors and industries voice concern regarding the challenges around a growing skills gap in Britain in the wake of a decline in apprenticeships which, according to the Department for Education, saw a decline over 26% in the first quarter of the academic year.
In response to this predicament, which is projected to be exacerbated by Brexit, Halfords Autocentres has developed an initiative to offer part-time flexi hours at a selection of its repair and service garages for college students where they can gain on the job experience.
The programme was developed to support the Halfords Autocentres long term talent pool but also due to concerns that candidates fresh out of further education are often lacking an understanding of the world of work. 180 students are currently taking part in the initiative, while 87 candidates have been hired part since the programme begun, with numbers signing up growing on a weekly basis.
Mr Gurney, Head of Apprenticeships at Halfords Autocentres says: “Once you leave school it’s easy to feel like you’re a fish out of water as there are so many skills that you simply can’t learn in the classroom. That’s why we decided to approach sixth form colleges to see if more could be done to help students get work ready.
”But this is much more than just work experience; it’s about promoting an understanding of the things that really matter to a business, while allowing students the space to learn, to fail, to adapt.
Ultimately this means rolling up your sleeves, learning hands-on and working as part of a team.
“So far the scheme has been a real success; we’ve begun taking on our very first recruits and we hope to work with more colleges to take on many more bright students and help young people to get prepared for the workplace.”
Derby College Deputy Principal April Hayhurst said: “It has been an amazing opportunity for our Motor Vehicle students and we are very proud of what they have achieved.
“Halfords reflect our own vision to prepare young people for the world of work through a number of  programmes and initiatives and this partnership is an ideal way for young people to get paid work experience which will set them up for their future careers.”
Saajeev Janagol is a former pupil of City of Derby Academy said: “We do work experience as part of our course but this takes it further and will help us all get to where we want to in the future.”
Faisal Mahmood returned to education after working in a call centre to fulfil is goal of a career in motor vehicle repairs. “This is an opportunity to improve our skills but also to work face to face with customers and to get paid for the work that we do.  I hope it will open doors for me.”
Joseph McAndrew joined the full-time programme at Derby College after two years’ of Motor Vehicle studies on the College’s pre-16 programme whilst a GCSE student at Allestree Woodlands School.
He said: “Working at Halfords will teach us to think on our feet as you don’t know what problem will be coming through the door and will give us a greater knowledge to what job opportunities are available in the future.”
 Halfords Autocentres, which invests significantly in its apprenticeship programme, has also announced its goal to increase the number of apprentices across the business by 150 places.
With a 20 year Apprenticeship heritage, Halfords Autocentre apprenticeships have an 80% success rate for the completion of the three year scheme. The apprentices qualify with an NVQ Level 3 (Light Vehicle Maintenance) Standard combing learning with practical, on-the-job training.