IN A FIRST for the United Kingdom’s vehicle restoration industry, the Heritage Skills Academy, the nation’s only accredited institution teaching restoration skills, has secured government funding.
Successful lobbying to the government on the economic and historical importance of the industry by representatives of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) and continuation of the skills and crafts needed to restore classic cars in the country, has seen the funds provided.
Employing over 35,000 people, the UK vehicle restoration industry generates $9.76 billion in economic activity and this vital funding through the Education and Skills Funding agency makes it possible for the academy to add mechanical engineering, precision engineering, motor trimming and coachbuilding apprenticeships.
The Heritage Skills Academy can now update its criteria in line with the government’s Trailblazers program that encourages employer groups to collectively set the standards for apprenticeship programs, relevant to their industries.
Though the apprentice program was initially designed for 16- to 18-year-olds, the updated Trailblazers criteria eliminates age limits, allowing older students and adults to participate in the program.
According to the FBHVC the original course has been relaunched with an emphasis on preserving basic engineering skills and practices, with the curriculum developed by a panel of restoration businesses and training providers to ensure the skills taught are those needed for the historic sector.
Based at Dan Geoghegan’s Bicester Heritage complex on the grounds of a former RAF air base, the Heritage Skills Academy launched in September 2017 offering apprenticeships in prewar, postwar, and modern vehicle restoration as well as apprenticeships in aviation, marine, and steam heritage engineering.
“Our mission is to ensure that the traditional skills required to maintain and restore our engineering heritage thrive and that the UK maintains its position as the centre for engineering excellence,” reads a statement on the Heritage Skills Academy’s website.
Apprentices build their skills on a variety of vehicles in the Academy’s workshops, including four donated by Jaguar Land Rover. Apprenticeships last three to four years and include placement services with the academy’s partners at the culmination of the program.