Lewis’ career in fast lane with Washington’s Springfield Motors

From left, Gateshead College's Gavin Batie with Marc Madden and Lewis Telford.
From left, Gateshead College's Gavin Batie with Marc Madden and Lewis Telford.

A Washington automotive firm is putting the pedal down by teaming up with Gateshead College to invest in apprenticeships.

Springfield Motors has hired 19-year-old Lewis Telford as an apprentice panel beater at its dealership on the Crowther Industrial Estate.

My career goal is to become a fully qualified panel technician. I’ve had a love of cars from an early age and I get a real buzz from working on our customer’s vehicles.

Lewis Telford

He completed two Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) accredited level 2 diplomas at Gateshead College – one in vehicle service and repair and the other in vehicle accident repair – before embarking on his apprenticeship.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to start my career in a fast-moving industry,” he said.

“Completing the courses at Gateshead College has opened the door for an apprenticeship, which will allow me to learn technical skills in the workshop while getting my academic qualifications and earning a wage.

“My career goal is to become a fully qualified panel technician. I’ve had a love of cars from an early age and I get a real buzz from working on our customer’s vehicles.”

Body shop manager Marc Madden said: “It’s vital that companies like ours have good succession planning policies in place. Apprenticeships can fill the skills gap left by the departure of older members of the workforce.

“This form of training can also upskill existing staff and keep them up to speed in an industry where things change on a regular basis, whether that be the introduction of new regulations or emerging technologies that make automotive operations more efficient.

“Working with a like-minded partner in Gateshead College is invaluable for us as they really understand the needs of our industry. They’re at the forefront of new technologies and their automotive academy contains all the latest equipment in an environment that replicates a proper workplace.”

Springfield’s recruitment is part of a wider drive by the North East automotive industry to invest in apprenticeships. The likes of Evans Halshaw, Hodgson Motor Group and Premier Truck Hire, along with SMEs such as Springfield Motors, Arnold Clark Body Shop and Durham Motor Services, have created three-year apprenticeships.