In this article: Apprenticeships are an intricate part of the industry and great route to a successful career, here are the skills you’ll need to succeed if you take the plunge

If you want to succeed on whichever apprenticeship you take, whether it’s technicians, finance, insurance, sales, marketing or IT, there are some key skills you could definitely do with.

MotorPro takes a look at the five skills that will help you take your career to the next level and help you get the most from your apprenticeship.

1.    Communication savvy

Being a stellar automotive apprentice means more than just repairing faulty parts and components: knowing how to communicate with customers is critical to your success.

For Mark Armitage, head of membership products and services at the IMI, this is the way for apprentices to add value to their business. “It will have an impact on customer retention and satisfaction. Apprentices need to exceed or at least meet expectations.”

He adds that communication can mean listening to a customer’s concerns, for instance organising a lift if their car has broken down so they can get to an important event. Or using technology to communicate a repair, for example video calling a customer to highlight the fault on a vehicle.

2.    Awareness of electrified vehicles

Understanding technology is useful in more ways than one. Apprentices need to be aware of electrified vehicles, as carmakers race to launch electric or hybrid models.

Armitage says that working for a big dealer or manufacturer usually means having access to professional development that may cover electrified vehicles. For others, to stay in the loop, he recommends keeping an eye on news websites for industry trends, or attending conferences. The IMI runs bootcamps where practitioners give demonstrations of the latest technology and diagnostic tools, Armitage says.

3.    Computing skills

Fresh recruits also need to be able to work with computers in order to communicate with all stakeholders, and to diagnose problems and fix vehicles. “Comfort with technology is critical. Cars, bikes, trucks and buses are mobile computers now,” says Armitage. “They have got cameras and radar systems that are constantly monitoring activity. They have a lot of alternative fuel technology now too.

“You need to know how different components interrelate with each other, in order to calibrate them. And you need to be able to explain how those systems work to customers in a clear and concise way.”

4.    Business knowledge

Automotive apprentices also need a good understanding of how a business operates, regardless of their role. This includes knowing how revenue is generated by the employer, so the apprentice can focus, where possible, on higher profit tasks, says Armitage.

“It’s not selling for selling’s sake, but maintaining excellent customer service while also building a sustainable business,” he adds. “Apprentices need to understand how the finances work at a basic level. A big proportion will work in a small business where cash flow can be tight, so being able to turn a profit is vital.”

5.    Teamworking ability

Working in the motor industry is a team sport: apprentices will need excellent soft skills in order to function effectively in a group. Armitage says: “It can be quite disruptive if you have people who are constantly thinking about themselves without understanding their impact on others.”

He adds that trainees need to understand their own and other’s strengths and weaknesses. “For example, that can mean not making a commitment to a customer based on other people having to deliver to a tight deadline. It can mean turning something down, or not over promising, without speaking to your team mates first.”

Want to take your career to the next level, find out how an apprenticeship  could be the right move for you

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