(Courtesy of The Sentinel)
Apprentices training to work with heavy vehicles can now hone their skills using the latest equipment at Stoke-on-Trent College.
The Burslem campus has invested in a new MAN tractor unit and diagnostic tools to give students the ‘real-life’ experience they need to succeed in their chosen careers.
The equipment gives heavy vehicle apprentices working towards level two and three qualifications the opportunity to develop their competencies in analysing and determining faults, as well as carrying out appropriate repairs using the most up-to-date technology and components.
Paul Johnson, assistant director for engineering and motor vehicle, said the college has gone the extra mile in securing high-spec appliances from Beech’s Garage, in Shelton, and autodiagnostics specialist Texa.
He said: “We are the only college in the area to have this type of equipment and facility. We currently have 45 heavy vehicle apprentices who come from North Staffordshire and beyond.
“This industry specific equipment gives the apprentices, particularly those at level three, the opportunity to diagnose quite complex faults and solve them, using the same tools and vehicles we see every day on our roads.”
The diagnostic tools link the vehicle at the college to a computerised system which the apprentices can then interrogate to highlight any faults which may be in the truck.
Beech’s has also supplied a range of 40 components with the vehicle, which are used in practical replace and repair sessions by the apprentices.
Last month, the Road Haulage Association warned that an emergency programme of training was needed to tackle an industry skills shortage.
It said a chronic shortfall in drivers was threatening supply chains and economic growth, with an extra 45,000 to 50,000 drivers needed behind the wheel.
Paul said if there is a need for more drivers, there is also a need for more technicians and engineers to support the industry.
He added: “Our full-time students will also benefit from this equipment, but our apprentices will really have the chance to become familiar with it and proficient in the skills they need to meet the qualification framework.
“As a college, we need to be able to properly support the industries we work with, and this facility means we can live up to that.
“From an employers’ point of view, we can offer bespoke training which meets their needs without the apprentice having to spend weeks at a time at a specialist college or training facility.
“We have the equipment here in North Staffordshire which the manufacturers and dealers use themselves. It’s more cost effective and it saves a lot of time.
“In that respect we are also helping the local heavy vehicle industry by delivering apprenticeship programmes that are flexible and meet the demands on these businesses.”