Jolly George praises female friendly employer Toyota

george_toyota2The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, praised Toyota’s provisions for childcare in the workplace this week during his visit to Toyota’s Burnaston car plant in Derbyshire.

Mr Osborne, joined by Exchequer Secretary Priti Patel, toured the on-site Bumpers Nursery and spoke to some of the women engineers who use it..

By making a nursery facility available to local employees in Derbyshire Toyota is setting out its stall to attract young women to consider a career in UK manufacturing.

nurseryThe nursery is called Bumpers and looks after 70+ youngsters aged from three months to school age. Toyota provides the building and the nursery is operated by Kidsunlimited.

In its most recent Ofsted inspection (2013), Bumpers was rated “outstanding”.

Mr Osborne said:

“It is brilliant to see an iconic company like Toyota actively supporting working parents by providing on-site childcare for staff. One of the key barriers to work for parents is finding convenient and affordable childcare. That is why we are introducing tax free childcare but there is still more we can do which is why I will be looking at this issue at this year’s Autumn Statement.”

Tony Walker, Deputy Managing Director, Toyota Manufacturing UK said:

“Toyota UK is delighted to welcome the Chancellor to Derby to meet mothers who use our on-site nursery, Bumpers. We are extremely proud of Bumpers and its outstanding rating awarded by Ofsted.

“We want our staff to feel welcomed back to work and that their children are well looked after. Toyota UK is committed to an inclusive, family friendly place of work and the provision of an on-site nursery is just one example of the opportunities open to our employees.”

FOXY Steph says:

This isn’t a new facility but it is a clever source of competitive advantage from a manufacturer employer that is clearly more aware of gender change than many and has made this a strategic business case.

Yes this is a family friendly initiative but the real beneficiaries are hard working Mums who can concentrate on their career knowing their children are safe and close to hand. And who knows, some may even follow Mum into a Toyota career in due course. Providing they work hard at their STEM exams of course!

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A female first for Robert J Barnes in Cambridge

scarlett_apprenticeSixteen year old Scarlett Petty is the first apprentice to be employed by FOXY Lady Approved female friendly Robert J Barnes Vehicle Repairer in Great Wilbraham, Cambridge.

Scarlett attends Bedford College one day a week to study for her NVQ Level 2 Panel qualifications and enjoys playing hockey and football. Running out of spare time, she has had to give up her hobby racing stock cars in favour of a supporting role in the stands!

Scarlett admits to loving cars which she associates with her family who work in the automotive business.

“I have grown up with cars and they are now a part of my life. This job is something I have always wanted to do. My ultimate aim is to focus on body repairs but at the moment I am enjoying being involved in all aspects of the vehicle repair process. I want to gain as much knowledge as possible of every aspect.”

Her supervisor (who is in the photo) is Senior Technician Chris Thexton, himself a former apprentice. He finds Scarlett enthusiastic and very willing to learn and looks forward to helping her complete the three year course.

Operations Director, Matthew Cooper added that helping people fulfil their ambitions is part of Robert J Barnes’ commitment as an employer.

“We are confident that Scarlett will be a growing asset within our business to complement our existing team of eleven experienced and highly professional staff.”

About Robert J Barnes

Robert J Barnes is a highly successful and growing independent vehicle repair business based in Cambridge. As well as providing a complete accident repair service it also operates as a servicing and repair garage offering specialist tyre services including four wheel vehicle alignment, tyre fitting services and wheel balancing. This makes it a fully comprehensive vehicle repair service covering all motoring eventualities and with customer service and safety always at the top of their agenda.

As a member of the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly garage and repairer network we are delighted to see that Robert J Barnes’ choice of apprentice is a female who will clearly be encouraged to reach her career goals in good company.

Find out more about Robert J Barnes’ female friendly garage services.

Find out more about Robert J Barnes’ female friendly repairer services.

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Best young drivers include 13 year old Hannah


A 13 year old girl and a 16 year old boy beat hundreds of other hopefuls in the 2014 Young Driver Challenge and were crowned the UK’s Best Young Drivers; before they are even old enough to officially drive.

Troy Hickling, aged 16, from Leicester finished first in the 14-16 age group, and Hannah Tripp, aged 13, from Cheddar in Somerset won the 11-13 age group, at the Birmingham NEC final of the 2014 Young Driver Challenge.

Their prize included Young Driver lessons of 20 ‘on the road’ post-17 driving lessons courtesy of Goodyear, a ‘Young Driver at School’ session to include their classmates and £500 off a car insurance premium courtesy of Young Driver insurance sponsor Admiral Insurance.

More than 350 young people entered the competition, organised by Young Driver, a provider of driving tuition for under-17s, and Troy and Hannah were among the 40 who made it to the final of the contest – which was open to those aged between 11 and 16.

As well as being marked on their practical driving skills behind the wheel of a dual-control car at one of Young Driver’s venues, the entrants were also judged on their performance in the Goodyear Driving Academy, an online driving simulator which tests a youngsters’ knowledge of the Highway Code.

Hannah and Troy were crowned the overall national champions after judges from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) praised their control of the vehicle, precise manoeuvres and quick thinking behind the wheel.

Hannah said: “It was an amazing feeling even to be in the final. To then learn I’d won my age category was just incredible. It was quite a challenging test and we knew the judges were marking our ability based on a lot of different driving skills and manoeuvres.

Troy added: “It was a great day and I was stunned to win. It’s reassuring to know I’m doing so well and all this experience will obviously be a huge help when I come to learn on the road aged 17. I’m looking forward to all my classmates being able to try out the Young Driver experience as part of my prize.”

One of the judges, IAM director of standards Mark Lewis, added: “Young people are often labelled as risky drivers but Hannah, Troy and all the entrants have shown that they can achieve the highest standards of driving safety.”

Mark had also noticed a surprising consequence of this:

“I heard two parents discussing how their own driving habits had been altered by their children. One mum said that her son was now pointing out her bad driving habits and particularly encouraging her to drive within the speed limits. Here we see a reversal of the trend where children learn their driving behaviour at a very early age from watching their parents. We are now seeing that parents are being corrected by their children who have undertaken the Young Driver programme. This could have a massive impact on road safety.”

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Fuel forecourt fiascos: female vs male drivers

Motorist filling up - close upI’m not at all surprised that men are more likely than women to run out of fuel and to fill up with the wrong sort.

We hear of this happening a lot so if you were to put the wrong fuel ie petrol in a diesel car here is some useful information to help you know what is the best thing to do.

Fuelling the battle of the sexes?

When it comes to the battle of the sexes there are two motoring awards that few men want to win, namely that of running out of fuel and putting the wrong type of fuel in their car.

Yet one in five (23%) – or an estimated 6.6m – UK motorists* admit to having run out of fuel at least once and more than a fifth (ie 22%) more men than women say they have fallen foul of an empty tank.

Of those who were left high and dry after ‘playing fuel roulette’ and losing, the majority ie 61% were men.

Happily, three quarters of us all claim never to have been caught out here, yet once again men are likely to be repeat offenders even if the statistics are small – 6% of men have run out of fuel more than once compared to 4%.

Not just that but research from the RAC** reveals that men are more likely than women to put the wrong type of fuel into their tank on a forecourt with 13% of men saying they have done so in contrast to 8% of women.

Just for the record, last year the RAC dealt with more than 22,000 ‘out of fuel’ incidents and a further 30,000 ‘misfuellings’ on average.

The ‘fuelish’ gender risk

Why do men seem to relish risking running out of fuel more than women? Why are they more likely to fill up with the wrong stuff? Maybe it’s down to their testosterone levels, a strong sense of misplaced confidence (I’m sure I can make it to the next forecourt) or their much reported inability to multi-task (such as adding fuel whilst thinking)? Only joking about the last one guys ;).

One thing is for certain, the number of ‘running out of fuel’ incidents increases when fuel prices are rising, suggesting that too many motorists are trying to make it to the nearest filling station with the lowest prices, regardless of gender.

RAC Technical Director David Bizley reminds us that running out of fuel and misfuelling can be seriously more ‘costly’ mistake to make in the end.

“Running out of fuel can result in motorists being stranded in dangerous places on the road and misfuelling can be very expensive, particularly if a vehicle suffers damage as a result of the wrong fuel being sent around the system.

“More than one in 10 people surveyed say they have run out of fuel on the motorway, putting themselves in a very dangerous situation unnecessarily.

“The best advice is always to ensure you have the right amount of fuel for the journey ahead. If you are on a long motorway journey, it’s a good idea to fill up at the nearest services, rather than risking waiting for the one after, running out completely and ruining your journey.”

Personally I can’t understand why anyone risks running out of fuel. Why not fill up at the right price when the vehicle is half full, not nearly empty? No difference to my fuel bills, just my peace of mind and potentially my road safety too as worrying about fuel levels is bound to affect my driving concentration.

FOXY Steph

*The one in five (23%) figure based on number of people who admit to running out of fuel once or more has then been extrapolated and based on 29.1m UK drivers (Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2013).

**This research was carried out among 1,463 UK drivers as part of a bespoke RAC Opinion Panel during May 2014.

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Girls Go Technical with BMW

girls go techie apprenticeRecent research I was involved in confirms that girls who like to know how things work, enjoy fixing things, doing the equivalent of mental crosswords and restoring order where there has been chaos, often make excellent technicians.

Add to this the fact that as many girls as boys are demonstrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) talents at GCSE level and you’ll understand why BMW is actively courting girls and encouraging them to go techie rather than head off towards stereotypically more female friendly industries like health, beauty and fashion.

So much so that young females aged between 15 and 24 are invited to follow MINI production from body panels to engine building culminating in a completed car rolling off the line on BMW UK’s 2014 Girls Go Technical programme.

Participating females are encouraged to consider a technical career within automotive manufacturing and the BMW programme will run from Monday 27 October to Friday 31 October at Birmingham, Oxford and Swindon production plants.

Simon Farrall, Head of Apprentice and Associate Training at BMW Group UK said:

“The automotive industry is still seen as a more appropriate career path for boys so this programme is designed to address this inequality of opportunity to attract more girls to consider a technical career in this field.

“On completion of the programme, the participants will have gained an insight into the manufacturing processes and experienced the day-to-day challenges encountered by engineers and technical apprentices.”

What the programme includes

Selected females will spend four days at the heart of MINI and BMW’s UK production network including time at the manufacturing site closest to their home region for in-depth work experience as well as time at MINI Plant Oxford where they will see MINIs being built.  

All participants will have the opportunity to take part in activities in the Oxford plant’s bespoke training school featuring state-of-the-art classrooms, dedicated computer study areas and a fully-equipped workshop.

“Working in the car manufacturing industry is an absolutely amazing experience”, said Rebecca Pallet, a current apprentice at MINI Plant Oxford. “I’ve always wanted to be able to build cars and with BMW Group’s support I can now pursue my dreams. I hope my example will encourage other girls to apply for our apprenticeship programme.”

Now in its second year, the Girls Go Technical programme is a part of the annual UK government-industry initiative “See Inside Manufacturing.”

Entry criteria and the application process

The entry criteria for the programme are four GCSEs at grade A-C to include Maths, English and one science subject and predicted grades will be accepted.

Applications can be made online at:

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