Seven apprentices learning the customer service ropes in the retail motor industry have formally graduated at the home of British motoring.
Aged 17 to 20, the youngsters were the first intake at an inaugural training academy launched by Snows Motor Group in southern England.
Their achievements were celebrated in a presentation ceremony held at the world-famous National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest.
The Snows Academy ‘Class of 2016’ were put through their showroom paces at dealerships in and around Southampton, Winchester, Plymouth and Exeter.
They are Aidan Baker, 20, of Snows Toyota Exeter/Lexus Exeter; Jack Bristow, 17, of Snows Volvo Winchester; Ben Edwards, 17, of Snows Volvo Southampton; David Hawes, 17, of Snows Toyota Southampton; Richard Jarrett, 19, of Snows Toyota Exeter/Lexus Exeter; Jacob Muldoon, 18, of Snows Toyota Plymouth and Danielle Weeks, 18, of Lexus Hedge End.
Apprentices were taught about the paramount importance of customer service as well as vehicle sales and parts in a detailed scheme through the Learning Skills Partnership (LSP), a specialist training provider for the automotive industry.
One of them, Danielle Weeks, 18, was also named apprentice of the year by LSP director Mike Alsop, from nearly 500 apprentices LSP is supporting across England.
Phil Maddison, a group director at Snows, which employs nearly 800 people across 35 dealerships selling 18 brands, praised the apprentices.
He told guests: “To be stood here at the home of motoring, celebrating the efforts of these extraordinary seven graduates, feels incredibly special and marks the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in the history of the Snows group.
“It also reflects the pioneering spirit that our founder Geoff Snow, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago, believed in when he founded the group over 55 years ago.
“This industry has a wonderful heritage and provides keen and enthusiastic individuals with a wide and diverse range of opportunities.
“As an industry that is always looking to the future in terms of technology, safety and customer satisfaction we as a group also need to look to the future – specifically to identify where our future talent and hopefully leaders are coming from.
“Snows believes passionately in promoting from within. Employees who have grown with the business already understand our goals and actively promote the belief that the customer comes first, so why would we want to look elsewhere?
“It’s always been relatively easy to attract technical apprentices however the routes into customer facing roles within sales and service may not have been as visible to young people with an interest in our industry.
“We needed to make Snows an attractive and viable career choice for school and college leavers where they could see progression and opportunity if they worked hard.”
Sam Cheesman, human resources manager for the group, helped formulate the Snows Academy concept in partnership with LSP.
Hull-based LSP was co-founded by Mike Alsop in 2010 to create new entry routes for talented apprentices in the automotive industry which had not previously existed away from the technical aspects.
He told guests: “From our first mission talks two years ago, to programme development, it quickly became apparent that Snows was not your average business.
“Snows had the clear foresight and vision about building tomorrow today. The programme was designed with the wellbeing, development, job roles and future career progression of the apprentices always in the forefront of Snows’ mind and that of LSP.”
He added: “During our recent Ofsted inspection, Snows was identified as a leading apprenticeship employer, which is no mean feat in this industry to achieve.”
A new cohort of students is currently being selected for the second intake at Snows Academy.
To ringing applause at the venue, Sam highlighted the standout qualities of each graduate.
Notes to reporters
Snows Motor Group is a privately-owned company that has been in business for more than 55 years and is recognised as being one of the leading motor groups in the South.
The group represents the automotive brands of Abarth, BMW, Citroën, DS, Fiat, Kia, Lexus, Lotus, MINI, Peugeot, SEAT, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen Commercial and Volvo across 35 dealerships and seven used car outlets, named Too Good to Auction, across Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset, Surrey and Wiltshire.
For more details visit www.snowsgroup.co.uk
Motoring news release issued by Snows’ press office, Deep South Media.