The IMI Skills Competitions aim to identify the most talented young apprentices working in the automotive sector. Last November the finalists came together to find out who would take home gold.

Automotive Body Repair Gold medallist Adrian Matthews from S&B Academy and Ultimate Accident Repairs Services sat down with MotorPro to tell us about his career so far, the win and what the future could hold…

Why did you want to work in the automotive industry, and particularly body repair?

Before I started in automotive I was in the flooring trade for just over four and a half years and decided that it wasn’t for me and wanted to try something different. I’ve always enjoyed doing things with my hands and as my father owns his own body shop and there was an opening for an apprentice, It seemed a no brainer especially with me being interested in cars.

How have you found your training?

It was pretty smooth sailing, it’s definitely helped my being in and around body shops from a young age as I was familiar with the setting and processes. Starting college was slightly different, especially as I didn’t know what to expect since it’d been six years since I had left school. I was pretty apprehensive about starting but once I started I found a lot of other people in the same boat as me.

What was it like competing in the IMI Skills Competitions finals?

As stressful and tiring as it was, was a relaxed environment. Meeting the different competitors definitely helped ease my nerves as everyone was feeling the same but talking to each other about how we were feeling, what we were and weren’t looking forward to made things a whole lot better.

How did it feel to take home gold?

To be honest it still hasn’t sunk in. Hearing my name being called, although I felt like I had done well in the competition did come as a shock. I’m very grateful to be given the chance and to have won gold makes the whole thing worth it.

Where do you want your career to take you?

As my father owns a body shop, I know eventually it’s natural that it will fall into my hands to manage. But as of now that is not my driving force. I’m not really sure what I want to do with my career whether that be staying on the shop floor for the next 30 years or going into the vehicle damage assessor side of things. But I do know this is a trade that I want to stay in for the rest of my working life.

What advice would you give to people thinking about a job in the automotive industry?

You have to take each day as it comes. There are days when things just don’t go right and it’s easy to let those things effect you. I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to keep your head held high and think of each job as a fresh start but also remember what didn’t work out so you can learn from your mistakes and move forward. The trade is forever changing be that with the vehicles or the repair processes, it’s a really interesting industry and one that sadly often gets over looked. I’m excited to see how it’s going to change for the next generation when comparing it to my experiences.

Time to find out more about the IMI Skills Competitions? See how you could be part of the search for the top talent in the sector

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