September 2 2016.

A problem shared by many UK industries, and one the government hopes to address through greater promotion, support and regulation of apprenticeships, is a shortage of skilled technicians.

To help overcome this, the government is proposing to pay 90 per cent towards the cost of training and assessment, with employers paying the remainder. This will be confirmed in October, and there is still time to feedback your views via the gov.uk website, but you need to be quick as the consultation closes on the 5th of September 2016.

In last year’s Autumn Statement, it was announced that these apprenticeships would be funded through the introduction of a levy for any business whose wage bill exceeds £3m a year. This means that larger companies, which account for around two per cent of businesses in the UK, will be required to pay 0.5 per cent of their annual wage bills into a national fund, starting from April 2017. This is expected to generate £2-3bn for the provision of apprenticeships by smaller companies in any sector, so long as they meet certain criteria.

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) says it is vital that the motorcycle maintenance and repair sector is in a position to stake its claim for any available finance and has been instrumental in shaping the requirements for the motorcycle industry. Each sector providing apprenticeships must agree and adhere to a certain standard, the setting of which is steered by employer-led groups known as ‘trailblazers’; each sector needs a trailblazer group.

Trailblazers are responsible for identifying specific job roles, core skills, knowledge and behaviours required to create an apprentice that is fully competent and able to meet the needs of employers in that sector.

Trailblazers must comprise 10 employers who wish to have apprentices, two of which must be micro-businesses. The trailblazer for the motorcycle industry was formed last year, under the auspices of the
National Motorcycle Dealers’ Association (NMDA). It is being guided by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and includes dealers, manufacturers, colleges and other training providers.

As a result of this collaboration, ‘motorcycle technician (repair and maintenance)’ is now listed on the government website as an occupation ‘approved for the development of an apprenticeship standard’ – good news for motorcycle businesses.

Steve Kenward, who has been involved in shaping the requirements for the motorcycle industry, said; “Taking all of these initiatives together, with the right level of support from the dealer networks, the industry should be well placed to increase its availability of skilled technicians for the future.”

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