The automotive industry is constantly evolving in terms of technology and skills and the education sector must be prepared to meet those challenges through investment in teaching and facilities.
With that in mind, Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) has launched a new £200,000 cutting-edge Accident Repair Complex (ARC) facility, which has been designed to provide a one-stop-shop for training new body/panel repair specialists and for the industry to develop and up-skill its existing workforce.
At the helm of the new facility is Barry Gregson, an industry expert who has worked as a technical trainer for world-leading collision repair equipment provider, Car-O-Liner, for the past 22 years.
Barry’s remit at the College is to work with the industry to ensure B&FC is providing what they need for their workforce, and the cutting-edge new ARC facility will help ensure the College is leading the way in offering high-quality training.
Barry said: “This new facility will ensure we are training students to work on the very latest in vehicle alignment technology, which they would expect to find throughout careers in industry.
“Having worked as a technical trainer for Car-O-Liner for more than 20 years I am keenly aware of the requirements of the collision repair sector in terms of equipment, skills and staff development – and the new Accident Repair Complex allows us to meet all those needs.
“This facility will see us provide the highest standard of training for re-accrediting those already working in the business, as well as those looking to complete their Senior IMI Accreditation.” (Formerly ATA)
The new ARC includes a raft of high-value specialist equipment for specific auto body/panel repair work, to ensure students are learning skills on relevant equipment to prepare them for industry.
This will help ensure that levy-paying companies are receiving the best return-on-investment when up-skilling current staff or bringing in apprentices. In an industry where the average age of technicians is 42, it is vitally important B&FC provides a level of training which ensures the workforce can hit the ground running in industry and bridge a potential skills gap.
The facility, at B&FC’s Bispham Campus, was built in consultation with some of the major repair companies the College already works with, including Nationwide Accident Repair Services, KC Autos and the Northern Accident Repair group.
Robert Oldale, Automotive Centre Manager at B&FC, added: “We’re delighted with the new ARC facility which will allow us to provide industry with technicians who are highly experienced in using the latest technology for auto collision repairs.
“Having Barry on board means we have one of the industry’s most experienced professionals in high-level approved collision repair training.
“I’m delighted to welcome him to the team and know his experience will only add to the quality of the training we are able to provide at the College.
“The new ARC will allow us to support Barry with the latest equipment to pass on his unparalleled knowledge of working on this equipment to the next generation of auto collision repair specialists.”
B&FC’s investment in its body repair training has been welcomed by leading industry figures.
Stuart Alexander from Car-O-Liner said: “We were delighted to support B&FC with the specific equipment to ensure they can provide the training and skills which the industry is looking for.
“The new ARC facility will ensure students are leaving college with the ability to operate at a high level when they begin working in industry – or go back to their employers with advanced level skills.”