Bentley Motors apprentice day attracts 500 teenagers

MORE than 500 teenagers flooded an open day at a luxury car manufacturer to apply for 20 places on a training scheme.

The teenagers mingled with £10 million pounds of luxury at Bentley’s Crewe headquarters at the weekend, ahead of applying to become apprentices. But with just 20 places up for grabs on the training schemes, they were told how tough it will be to win through.

  1. THE APPRENTICES: Matthew Farrell, above, and Jessika Camm, right. Below, tour guide Alan Powell. Pictures: Clare Jennings
    THE APPRENTICES: Matthew Farrell, above, and Jessika Camm, right. Below, tour guide Alan Powell. Pictures: Clare Jennings

The visitors were taken round the Pyms Lane plants lineage room, where the history of the world class company is detailed.

They drooled over flagship models, including a 1929 Blower racing car, worth £6 million, and a full-sized Bentley made from clay, to illustrate how the new designs are moulded into shape.

Then the youngsters were invited to try their hands at the many skills on offer in the apprenticeships – from coach trimming to hi-tech electronics.

They talked to 12 current apprentices, who demonstrated some of the skills they have acquired during their training, and were also shown a film about what it is like to work for the company.

Manning a stand focusing on luxury Bentley seats, apprentice Matthew Farrell, aged 18, from Stanley, near Endon, said: “I swapped a place at the Manchester Royal Northern College of Music to become an apprentice.

“So many people applied I feel lucky to have been chosen, and am now halfway through my four-year apprenticeship.

“I always wanted to get into engineering and I like cars, but you don’t need to show fantastic technical skill to get a place. The company was more interested in whether I could work as part of a team.”

Recruitment for apprentices starts on March 17, and the open day was the second staged to encourage candidates to apply to join the near-4,000 workforce which last year built and sold 7,000 cars – a third more than in 2010.

It followed visits to local schools to stimulate interest in the event.

On hand to chat to budding colleagues was 19-year-old Jessika Camm from Kidsgrove, who is the only female apprentice in the class of 20 recruited two years ago.

She said: “The lads are really great and I fit in really well.

“Once the novelty wore off I was treated just like anyone else and it’s wonderful to be learning my trade from such a famous company.

“I have been interested in engineering since I was 14 and love cars and tinkering with them.

“I got a GCSE in engineering and it’s a dream come true to be involved in the production of such beautiful cars.

“I would urge any other girls not to worry about coming forward – everyone is on the same footing here.”

The 36-year career of Alan Powell started as an apprentice between 1976 and 1980. His skill was coach trimming, but he is now part of a sales and marketing team which talks to 6,500 customers a year.

Also a tour guide of the works, 52-year-old Alan, from Sandbach, said: “I still get the same thrill being at Bentley as when I started all those years ago. Pride in these beautiful cars never leaves you.

“People who buy them are not just acquiring a car, they are buying into a noble piece of art and I love being part of that process.

“From the faces of these youngsters here today, the feel of the cars is pretty universal.”

Lorna Furber, personnel co-ordinator for trainees, said: “These open days just go from strength to strength as the youngsters realise the quality of the apprenticeships.

“Bentley has always stuck with the apprenticeship programme through the recession, and the Government is now encouraging the creation of schemes throughout the country.

“What we have been doing for years is now seen as the future.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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