BICESTER Heritage, one of the UK’s major hubs for classic and vintage vehicles, is now the full-time home for an apprenticeship scheme and training course in historic vehicle restoration.
The course, run by Banbury and Bicester College and Activate Learning, was set up in September 2014 and is designed to train students to develop their knowledge in every element of working on historic vehicles.
Based at the former RAF Engine Test House at the UK’s best-preserved World War 2 Bomber Command Station, the course will immerse students into an environment where they’re surrounded by their subject and experts in the field, giving them the skills they need for a career in the historic motoring industry.
Many of the buildings on the Bicester Heritage site are now being using for their original purposes, including vintage Bentley specialist Kingsbury Racing fitting engines to Bentleys in the old Engine Fitting Shop and Classic Oils storing and selling heritage oils from the RAF’s Lubricant store.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), who created the course, found that half of the 28,000 employees that work in the vintage vehicle renovation industry are aged 45 or older, with businesses expected to need up to 150 apprentices a year for the next five years in order to protect the future of an industry that is worth an estimated £4.3bn a year. The scheme was thus launched to respond to a widening skills gap in the industry, training up the next generation of classic and vintage vehicle experts and enthusiasts.
Daniel Geoghegan, Managing Director of Bicester Heritage, commented: ‘Bicester Heritage is focused on the future of our past and, as such, skills transfer is a major pillar of our strategy. We are also delighted to see the Engine Test House, built in 1926, return to life so appropriately.’
Pablo Lloyd, Chief Executive of Activate Enterprise, added: ‘The historic vehicle apprenticeship was launched to develop the talent required to safeguard the future of this important and high value sector. The opportunity to locate our training programmes within the UK’s specialist centre for the classic vehicle industry is extremely exciting.
‘Our aim is to offer apprentices and students a direct line of sight to employment. This move will offer them an unrivalled learning experience, surrounded by industry enthusiasts and expertise, and the chance to build vital links with employers.’
Bicester Heritage will open its doors to the public on May 22 for the 9th Sunday Scramble, which pays tribute to the fastest, most evocative and most glamorous cars throughout history. The theme is ‘Supercars through the ages’ and will see the likes of the Bugatti Owners Club heading to the site, with the specialist businesses based at Bicester Heritage offering the opportunity for visitors to see their latest projects, workshops and showrooms.
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