Sapphire technicians join the heavy mob thanks to skills conversion programme

Sapphire technicians join the heavy mob thanks to skills conversion programme

Independent commercial repair specialist Sapphire Vehicle Services has hit on an innovative answer to the difficulty of recruiting qualified truck maintenance specialists – by launching a course to give car and van technicians the skills they need to look after HGVs.

The company’s first intake of six candidates are nearing the end of their training and, says Group Operations Manager Dave Williams, plans are already in place to repeat the exercise.

“We’re always on the lookout for competent and experienced truck technicians but there’s a shortage of qualified people across the country,” said Dave. “So we decided to be proactive and train our own.”

Sapphire already runs a successful apprenticeship programme aimed at candidates entering the industry for the first time but the new scheme runs alongside that and aims to provide a quicker fix.

“We’re taking car and van technicians who are already level-three qualified, and giving them an intensive, one-year course to equip them with the specialised knowledge and skills to work on heavy vehicles,” Dave explained.

The six started their training in February, and will complete six one-week blocks across a 12-month period before a final assessment. All are working full-time in Sapphire workshops across the country – in Bedford, Dartford, Northampton, and East Kilbride in Scotland – and hopes are high that every one of the six will pass with flying colours

One of two trainee technicians based at Sapphire’s Northampton depot is 31-year-old Isaac Adusei, who has eight years’ experience working on cars and vans.

“I’ve always been interested in developing my skill set and learning more about different vehicle classes, so the opportunity to join this programme was certainly attractive,” he said. “Since joining I’ve already achieved my BPW Axles certification and am keen to carry on my training, even after this course is finished.

“I’ve also been really impressed with the set-up at Sapphire, where there is a very positive emphasis on staff development. I’ve been supported all the way, with mentoring from Depot Manager Garry Craddock and colleagues, and am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified member of the team.”

Dave Williams added: “Isaac and fellow Northampton trainee Tom Saunders have really grasped the opportunity we’ve given them – but so have all six of the guys we recruited for this initiative. We’ll continue to look for imaginative ways to boost our staff with top-quality people but the upskilling programme has certainly been a success.”

One of Britain’s most successful independent commercial vehicle aftersales providers, Sapphire Vehicle Services looks after upwards of 28,000 trucks and vans at its 19 workshops nationwide, for a client portfolio that includes some of the biggest names in the supermarket sector.

Earlier this year auditors from the British Assessment Bureau declaring themselves happy with the Sapphire’s “inspirational leadership” and high level of “staff engagement”, when awarding the coveted ISO9001:2015 certificate in recognition of the company’s commitment to quality management, to cover the head office in Appleby Magna, Derbyshire, and all 14 workshops around the UK.

Looking up: Truck training is a positive career move for Isaac Adusei, right, with mentor Garry Craddock
Deeper understanding: Isaac Adusei, centre, demonstrates his knowledge to trainers Tony Hewins, right, and Garry Craddock