The impact of using current apprentices to help inspire the next generation of automotive employees

Throughout January, Burrows Motor Company hosted their annual Dealership Open Evenings as part of their Search for a Star Programme, designed and managed by Gaia Innovation, which seeks to recruit apprentices to work in all areas of the family-run business. The two separate events were held at Burrows Mazda York and Burrows Toyota Sheffield, with students attending from areas throughout North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

The evenings were well-attended, with a total of 56 students and their families coming along to learn more about the apprenticeship opportunities available within Burrows and hear from their apprentice training providers,  Toyota Academy, Mazda Academy and The Source Academy. They also heard about the further steps involved in the Search for a Star programme – employability skills workshops and work experience weeks.

Managing Director, Steve Burrows welcomed the potential future stars and their parents into the dealerships, for an evening filled with information, advice and insight into Burrows Motor Company as an employer. Supporting each event were long-standing Burrows team members, previous stars of the apprentice recruitment scheme and colleagues new to Search for a Star from Burrows York, formerly Turnbulls Mazda.

Dean Cooper introduced students to the worlds of Burrows, Toyota, Mazda and the automotive industry via an interactive quiz. Students in Sheffield then took part in a Technical Activity, with Martin Reid from The Toyota Academy, Zoe Mitchell of Burrows and Connor Doyle, an apprentice recruited through Search for a Star 2017.

At our York evening, Chris Millington of Babcock International spoke with students about the training opportunities available through Babcock and Mazda UK. He was joined alongside Owen Hollis an Apprentice Vehicle Technician who was recruited only 5 months ago through Search for a Star. Owen shared his experience of working for Burrows Motor Company and gave insight into the training provided by Babcock International and Mazda UK. Fully qualified Diagnostic Technician, Jess Montgomery was also present, speaking about her progression since completing the apprenticeship and her experience of becoming a mentor to one of our most recent stars.

A Customer Consultant Activity, led by Debbie Palfreyman (Communications Team Leader), Kay Smith (Marketing Manager) and Sam Ferguson, previous Search for a Star apprentice and Office Sales Support at Burrows Barnsley, included valuable advice to students, urging students to take the opportunity of Employability Skills Training and Work Experience, reminding them that  ‘even if you’re unsuccessful they’re skills that can be taken with you throughout life’.

Debbie echoed this, saying ‘You will get the best version of us if you bring the best version of you.’

Our Sheffield event also saw Chloe Howes, Apprentice Customer Consultant at Burrows Kia participate in the career speed networking activity, allowing students to ask questions about career pathways, daily working life at Burrows and what specific roles entail. Having joined the team in 2018, through Gaia Innovation’s Search for a Star programme, Chloe informed students about how her work experience week afforded her an opportunity to settle into a new working environment. ‘Meeting everyone and finding the perfect department for myself definitely helped me to get a feel for what it would be like to work at Burrows,’ she said, adding, ‘I am encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them, and it has helped me to have the confidence to put myself out there and take risks.’

Each of the sessions run by both current and past apprentices received particularly positive feedback from parents and students and helped to showcase the level of training provided by each party.  Vernon Tolson, Business Development Manager at The Source Skills Academy, which delivers the apprenticeships in partnership with Burrows, also gave positive feedback surrounding the programme, commenting: ‘I’ve worked with Burrows for several years and they are an absolute example of how an apprenticeship programme should be run.’

Feedback from students: 

‘I enjoyed meeting the staff at Burrows, especially the current apprentices.’

‘I found it really useful hearing information about Sam’s experience.’

Parental feedback: 

‘The presentations given by the current apprentices are a testament to the training, confidence and progress that can be achieved.’

‘I have to say that I am really impressed by the unity and passion displayed by the Burrows family. What really stood out on the evening is the confidence displayed by the stars already on the learning path..’

If you would like to give your current Year 10 students the opportunity to access this fantastic programme of workplace visits, employability skills training and work experience, leading to the possibility of apprenticeship roles and becoming one of our future stars, please contact [email protected].

We look forward to watching our most recent stars grow into their roles as we begin the journey to welcome our stars of 2020.