UK Automotive Industry Empowers Apprentices with Drive to Thrive Scheme

The UK automotive sector has launched an innovative pilot scheme, "Drive to Thrive", aimed at empowering apprentices with the essential skill of driving. This initiative, a collaborative effort between the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Charitable Trust Fund and automotive charity Ben, is a significant stride in nurturing the future workforce in the industry. It aligns with the sector's commitment to generating more than 14,000 new jobs, largely driven by the transition to net zero.

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Published on
November 23, 2023

Drive to Thrive offers up to 44 hours of funded driving lessons to apprentices aged 17 to 21, particularly targeting those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This initiative is set to support 10 apprentices in its inaugural year, providing them with an invaluable tool for both personal mobility and career advancement.

This scheme comes at a time when the UK automotive sector is experiencing a significant increase in apprenticeships, with a 45.3% rise last year alone. This growth is part of a broader trend, reflecting over £11 billion investment in decarbonisation since 2011 and significant investments in automated and connected vehicle technologies. The sector offers a wide array of exciting roles, from EV battery development to designing autonomous vehicles, indicating a bright future for new entrants in the industry.

The automotive industry in Britain, known globally for its R&D excellence, is reinforcing its workforce development. Notably, the average number of training days per employee increased by 23.5% last year, and automotive salaries are reportedly 14% above the UK average. This focus on skilled development underlines the industry's commitment to ensuring a prosperous career path for its workforce.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, highlighted the crucial role of apprentices in the automotive industry, particularly in embracing new technologies essential for future mobility. He emphasised that Drive to Thrive is not just about attracting talent but also about enabling apprentices to accelerate their careers.

Rachel Clift, Director of Health & Wellbeing at Ben, expressed excitement about the initiative. She pointed out the dual benefits of the scheme: offering opportunities to young people from varied backgrounds and infusing fresh talent into the automotive sector, especially in areas like electric vehicles (EVs) and new technology.

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