Tag Archives: careers

Training tomorrow’s generation of accident repairers

JCC_apprenticesNorth Lindsey College and Just Car Clinics have joined forces to raise the talent levels of young technicians repairing cars in future; hopefully reaching young females as well as male recruits.

Just Car Clinics is the first Accident Repair Group to join the FOXY Lady Approved repairer network so we’re not at all surprised to see that they are the first to develop a pipeline of talent for their industry via their own Academy for future apprentices, from September 2014.

The Just Car Clinic Academy will be delivering an intensive two stage programme including a residential eight week course at North Lindsey College, followed by four weeks work experience at a local Just Car Clinic site. There’ll be c12 student placements, recruited across northern areas where a Just Car Clinic site is located. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an assessment day in August at North Lindsey College where they will be put through a number of aptitude, skill and knowledge based tests to win a place on the programme.

We hope female students will apply as these are jobs that can be done just as well by women as men.

Students will achieve a Level One qualification at the end of the 12 week programme before entering the work experience stage of the programme where they’ll start to contribute to the business.

During the initial 12 week programme successful candidates will be full-time students with training provided thanks to a combination of government funding and North Lindsey College. All travel, any accommodation and related living costs during the residential period are paid for by Just Car Clinics.

At the end of the 12 weeks there will be a number of apprenticeships made available at Just Car Clinics so students can learn whilst they earn. Mentors will work with the students, in the business, and receive specialist training from North Lindsey College to support the students.

Just Car Clinics is a founding member of the National Accident Repair Group (NARG) and the plan is to open up this academy to benefit NARG members.

We asked Dawn Swales, HR & training manager for Just Car Clinics to tell us more.

‘The creation of the Just Car Clinic Academy is really exciting. We’re passionate about investing in our future generation and working with North Lindsey College provides us with an amazing opportunity to do this. The programme offered by the Academy is like nothing else out there. Our students will leave the programme after as little as 12 weeks having the knowledge and skills to contribute in any bodyshop, and will be ready to commence their Level Two qualifications at that stage.’

We are encouraged by this development too and hope that anyone reading this blog will pass this on to a likely female near a northern Just Car Clinics branch who might harbour ideas of a creative career in the motor industry but not be sure how to take this further. Here is her chance…

An ideal motoring career for women?

femalechauffeur300Browsing through some insurance broker websites looking for the evidently female friendly ones to promote to Club members I came across chauffeur plan insurance which started me thinking.

Coincidentally we were recently asked if we could help a Turkish fashion business based in London to recruit a female chauffeur to ferry their buyers to meetings. There were religious reasons why business women, travelling on their own in this instance, would prefer a female chauffeur and, as a caring female employer, this business wanted to do the right thing for their senior staff.

We were able to mention this request via our social media channels but I never heard if the vacancy was filled by a female in the end. Needless to say you can’t advertise ‘Woman preferred’ today even when that’s the case…

Is chauffeuring a suitable career for a woman?

Undoubtedly some will see chauffeuring as a male job but not us. Women drive as well as men; in fact accident statistics suggest we do this better. So why shouldn’t we see more female chauffeurs ’employed to drive a private or hired car’ typically for a rich employer and VIPs?

All that is needed to morph a professional and aspiring taxi driver into a chauffeur is a prestigious car, a smart uniform, a marketing strategy to sell to the right customers and a rate schedule to reflect that higher level of personal service…

But surely women chauffeurs are MORE likely to stand out, representing a genuinely female friendly employer in the best possible light. Even better if the female chauffeur were collecting a female VIP of course.

About the job

This can be a well paid job offering the flexibility of advance bookings and will usually entail:

+ Making sure the VIP gets to their destination on time and safely
+ Finding a suitable parking place on arrival, whatever the destination or agreed collection point
+ Making sure that any parking fees are paid for and accounted correctly
+ Assisting occupants with their luggage and any heavy belongings
+ Maintaining the vehicle’s tax, business use insurance, car maintenance and car servicing in accordance with the vehicle handbook
+ Dressing appropriately – traditional attire for men includes a smart black suit, white shirt and black tie. Women don’t have to wear trousers but their uniform needs to confirm their role as a chauffeur, be smart and professional at all times
+ Conversing with vehicle occupants (where invited to do so).
+ Handling all associated administrative paperwork, professional personal insurance and the promotion of their chauffeur business (where self-employed).

When it comes to the ideal personality traits for a chauffeur, women can be equally as discreet and professional as men. Satellite navigation systems relieve route stresses and whilst chauffeurs are responsible for the safe running of their car that usually means little more than checking tyre pressures, oil levels and lights on a regular basis. Other than that, all that is needed to be sure of a safe and reliable car is a regular visit to the local franchised dealership for the annual MOT and car servicing regime.

All in all, as I see it, there is no reason why a woman shouldn’t consider being a chauffeur as her career, whether this is as an employee or on a self employed basis.


PS: The word chauffeur is masculine and French. In the old days it meant the operator of a steam engine hence the heat association (chauff…) but nowadays it’s more likely to mean ‘a person employed to drive a private or hired car’ and there is a usual expectation that the car will be a prestigious one like a Rolls Royce, a Bentley or a Jaguar although Mercedes seem popular models too.

More female motor industry apprentices needed

School students learning about career opportunities at Jaguar Land Rover
School students learning about career opportunities at Jaguar Land Rover
In last week’s Budget George Osborne announced his backing for apprenticeship schemes – marking a genuine recognition from the Government for apprenticeships with employers and jobseekers alike.

That’s good news to me if it includes funds to help us promote apprenticeships in the motor industry to females in advance of their GCSE studies.

At present the industry is missing out because it’s the girls that are getting the better STEM (Science, Techniology, Engineering and Mathematics) results but few know much about motor industry careers.

The IMI recently published the results of a two year project to prove the value of apprentices in the automotive sector. This proved that vocational training does not have to be a cost-burden to business – quite the opposite it seems.

Not only do apprenticeships reduce youth unemployment but the IMI’s research shows that, by the end of their third year, the right apprentice can generate between 150% and 300% return on investment, based on a £50 hourly charge. In other words, for every £1 a firm invests, it will see a return of between £1.50 and £3.

“Our research proves that businesses can reap genuine financial rewards from employing young people” explains Steve Nash, the IMI’s Chief Executive.

“Vince Cable has said that the Government wants to change young people’s thinking and make it the new norm that they either go to university or pick an apprenticeship. That is a fantastic attitude and one that the IMI wholeheartedly supports – if it comes to fruition. However what we now need from the Government is a clear strategy on how – and where – its promised new funding will be delivered.”

To be specific, how much of this money is coming the way of the motor industry so we can help support businesses who want to expand their workforce to benefit the UK economy. And, from FOXY’s point of view, attract young female students by promoting the exciting motor industry careers too many are missing out on.

The motor industry needs MORE WOMEN

WeNeedYouI run FOXY Lady Drivers Club and if the motor industry was more female friendly in the first place I doubt we’d exist as it was borne out of our daughter’s bad garage experience quite a while ago now!

Nowadays things have moved on for FOXY and yet the industry still needs many more women in it to make it ‘seem’ a more female friendly place for future employees and customers alike.

I use the word ‘seem’ because a lot of the female apprehension I encounter is stereotypical, out of date and there are many female friendly employers who are harnessing the advantages of having women in their workforce. Most of these are in front of house customer service and sales roles where our natural people skills can come to the fore.

Sadly, as a result of this ‘no go’ perception, which is often influenced by out of date parents I hasten to add, too many young women are missing out on some really exciting career opportunities in an industry that is crying out for them; even if it doesn’t realise it or know how to go about recruiting us.

This is particularly bad news for the industry of course because female graduates are outperforming their male counterparts in many disciplines but they are less interested in (or knowledgeable about) motor industry careers.

Start at the top

beale1Yes we need to start by recruiting more Women Board Directors at the top of the motor industry in the male dominated boardrooms of vehicle manufacturers and dealership groups.

Knowing that there are now more women drivers than male drivers on US roads (how many Board Chairman realise this I wonder?) and that the UK will likely follow suit, it’s about time that more UK Boards realised that a male-led agenda doesn’t make them a female friendly employer and that female shoppers are increasingly favouring businesses that clearly understand and meet their needs.

Getting it right for females is therefore a HUGE business opportunity and should surely be a strategic item on all Board agendas; especially knowing the shift to girl power and her financial influence on others is happening during their watch.

The message for female students

JLR_0525The industry needs to get its message out to young women at grass root levels as well. Companies like Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers: Young Women in the Know’ course are leading the field here for sound commercial reasons. Women don’t have to get their hands dirty or wear overalls although how else would female engineers, like those in the photo, start their career other than by a hands on induction programme?

And well run garages don’t have to be dirty although far too many still are grubby places in my experience. Having said that I’ve been encouraged by many of the immaculate FOXY Lady Approved accident repair centres I’ve visited recently.

Other than this, all businesses should look at their female friendly employer credentials and have these added to their recruitment campaigns to give them women appeal. Sadly this will be a very short list for most.

Barriers to female appeal

We have women running motor racing teams, excellent but rare apprenticeship schemes for females, women heading up motor industry associations, running their own garages, car dealerships, car parts and leasing companies and so on. But why are we still seen as the exception and not the norm I wonder?

Why, for example, aren’t there more women in car showrooms selling us cars? And accompanying women on test drives. I’m told it’s an antisocial job and women don’t want to do the hours. But nobody asks the ‘right’ women about the hours they could work, even if these are shorter shifts. Or gives them the chance to show what they can do.

I say the ‘right’ women because all too often I come across females who have been employed for their looks rather than their work ethic. I say this with sincere apologies to all those good looking, hard working and ambitious females out there – I am sure they understand the point I am making which is that the ‘wrong’ female employees simply reinforce the stereotypical perception too many men have of us on the shop floor to begin with. You must employ the RIGHT females and they must always be the BEST recruits even if they lack industry experience and need training.

Sadly the industry has been such a male stronghold for so long that too many men can’t imagine there might be a different/better way to do their business. Which of course is likely given an open rather than closed mindset.

Are you a female friendly employer?

Finally, and to make my point crystal clear in case I haven’t been so far ;)… I recall a recent Twitter exchange with a Chairman of a leading dealership group who was too busy to see me but asked me to meet two of his senior female management colleagues.

I duly discussed our FOXY Lady Approved female friendly scheme with them to be told, in confidence, that they could not endorse that business as a female friendly one. So the Chairman still thinks his business is a female friendly one but it clearly isn’t and sadly his senior management ladies don’t feel able to tell him this…

I suspect they aren’t the only leading Group to have this dilemma, or for female staff to feel they can only admit this to an outsider, in strict confidence.


My LinkedIn profile

PS To find out more about the many career opportunities in the motor industry I recommend the Autocity website .

To find out about the many apprenticeships in the motor industry I suggest you start with the IMI’s programme.

The motor industry isn’t just for boys

Jaguar Land Rover is offering female students interested in engineering, technology and manufacturing careers a unique insight into the world of work at the UK’s largest luxury automotive manufacturer.

The ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers: Young Women in the Know’ course has been developed in partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan College to change outdated perceptions of engineering to encourage more young women to consider engineering and manufacturing careers.

The 28 female students, aged 16-18, are participating in a week-long programme of events this week at Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing, design and engineering sites in Gaydon, Whitley, Solihull and Castle Bromwich. They will meet other female apprentices, graduates, engineers and managers to find out about their education and career histories and will spend a day on work experience at the Solihull plant. They will also find out about Jaguar Land Rover’s apprentice and graduate schemes and participate in workshops on job applications, assessment centres and interview techniques.

Bob Joyce, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director, said: “Jaguar Land Rover offers a wide range of education programmes with the aim of getting young people excited about engineering and crucially, to encourage them to make the right subject choices at GCSE-level and beyond. The ‘Young Women In The Know’ course has been developed to encourage female students to consider engineering careers and we hope some of the students on the course today will join Jaguar Land Rover as engineers in the future.”

Danella Bagnall, Project Planning and Integration Director at Jaguar Land Rover, added: “I started my career as an apprentice 25 years ago which was a great way of continuing education, developing skills, and getting into industry.”

“I am now a senior engineering manager which demonstrates the excellent career progression opportunities available to women in a modern engineering-led business like Jaguar Land Rover.”

“It is a very exciting time to join our business. We are investing more than £2 billion a year in research and development and we need talented young people to deliver new technologies, new applications, new approaches and new ideas. I would thoroughly recommend a career in engineering to girls and hope this programme inspires lots more women to become engineers.”


We’d like to see more initiatives of this kind in the motor industry. This is such a great way to raise awareness levels about the range of exciting careers on offer for girls. Not just for girls to read about of course but also for teachers, career advisers and ambitious parents, many of whom seem to retain old-fashioned ideas about this industry which need challenging and updating.

To prove my point, I suggest you visit the AutoCity careers website and the World of Work and listen to over 150 people about their careers. There is a real need for more women at all levels (starting in the Boardroom I must say) to reflect and cater for the customer service, needs and expectations of the customers that influence the majority of motor industry sales ie women. This is a serious opportunity and those employers that are seen to be female friendly ahead of others are likely to attract the creme de la creme of STEM graduates who are increasingly women.


MBA, FCIM, Chartered Marketer and a proud Member of the Institute of the Motor Industry (MIMI) keen to see more fellow females in future!