Bosch ‘40 Locations in the UK’
Doncaster: Undercover Operations
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On a business park in Doncaster, a newly-opened automotive training facility takes centre-stage, with Nissan, Renault and Suzuki logos emblazoned across the front of the building. This is where new apprentices from across the three brands come to learn servicing and maintenance skills.
“With Nissan, Renault and Suzuki branding on the outside, most people have no idea that on the inside, everything is run by Bosch,” says Grant Taylor-Smith, Technical Training Manager at Bosch. “Then again, most people have no idea that a lot of the cars you see on the road have Bosch technology on the inside, despite the manufacturer’s badge on the bonnet.”
The new £1.5 million facility is owned, designed and run by Bosch and provides the best possible setting for apprentice training. Opened at the beginning of July, the 36,846 square foot facility features state-of-the art workshops as well as a host of classrooms for theory sessions.
The centre has been specifically developed to meet the diverse needs of the automotive partners, the new apprentices and the Bosch personnel using the centre as a meeting facility. Catering for the needs of all parties presented a number of challenges during the planning phase.
“The biggest test was ensuring that Nissan, Renault and Suzuki were all happy with the centre. The set-up is unique, as Suzuki is a direct competitor of Renault and Nissan. To get them all to work together, to share the same facilities, and to agree on what the classrooms and workshops should look like, from the branding to the colour of the walls, wasn’t easy,” says Grant.
As well as managing the partner requirements, Grant and his team had to consider the new apprentices, most of whom are aged 16 to 18-years-old. With many students fresh out of school, the team had to make sure the transition from classroom theory to workshop practicality was as smooth as possible.
Grant has first-hand experience of what new apprentices want and need from their training, having started his career with an auto-electrical apprenticeship in New Zealand in 1980.
“The facility where I completed my training was very cutting-edge back then, but the technology in motor vehicles has changed enormously,” he says. “That is reflected in the new training facility: the level of investment in equipment needed to provide the training is much higher now.”
The exponential rate of change in vehicle technology presents a real challenge for technicians who prepare and service vehicles. Training centres are essential for ensuring the future workforce has the skills they need to succeed. Bosch, with its wealth of expertise in the automotive sector, from autonomous driving systems to innovative vehicle management and software solutions, is ideally positioned to share this knowledge.
"Our in-house experience is what sets Bosch apart from many other training providers on the market. We have the technical backbone and heritage that gives us a completely different scale of legitimacy".
- explains Grant.
Approximately 300 apprentices are expected to receive training at the new centre each year with over 100 graduating. But there are plans to diversify the offering to allow an even greater number of students benefit from Bosch’s training facilities and expertise.
“The best thing about this job is that there are individuals out there who leave our training centre and go back to their workplace enriched with skills they didn’t previously have. There is a great deal of satisfaction seeing the lights switch on in someone’s head when they finally understand something they didn’t get before, and they leave the classroom armed with the knowledge that will help their career” says Grant.
He believes that investing in apprenticeships is crucial for the automotive industry to retain a skilled workforce. However, businesses that would benefit the most in the short term from employing an apprentice are often the most reluctant to do so, despite well-documented research proving the return on investment.
It is also important to realise that apprenticeships provide a worthwhile career gateway for many people considering their route to employment.