Simpsons Skoda signs collaboration deal with Blackburn College

A Lancashire motor dealer has teamed up with Blackburn College to launch a new scholarship programme with valuable on the job training at its new £5.5m Regional Automotive Technology Hub (RATH).

Simpsons Skoda MOU-2571-2Neil Simpson, managing director of Simpsons Skoda in Preston and Burnley, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Blackburn College, to help make students “work ready”.

The agreement with Simpsons Skoda has been developed to define a number of activities and enhancements that will help students develop and gain employability skills.

The partnership with local motor dealers such as Simpsons Skoda has secured £95,500 from the Edge Foundation’s Innovation and Development Fund to set up a Regional Automotive Technology Development Programme.

This links the college with industry in order to create a real world learning environment with new work experience opportunities to help students get into employment.  The scholarship programme at Simpsons Skoda will be open to motor vehicle students to apply for, they will then be shortlisted and will go through an interview/ selection process to get selected.

The students who are chosen will have work experience at Simpsons Skoda either at Preston or Burnley. Scholarship students will work with the Simpsons Skoda master technician and also study a couple of additional modules developed in-house.

Managing director Neil Simpson has been involved in the design of the Regional Automotive Technology Hub during the build phase and Darren Bould, Simpson Skoda’s master technician, has contributed to curriculum design.

Neil said: “I was delighted to be involved in this partnership with Blackburn College. The project quickly gathered momentum and what you see today is quite simply one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere in the UK."

“I’m really pleased to sign this agreement, ensuring that this fantastic investment pays real dividends for the students, ensuring we produce the high level calibre candidates that are best placed to meet the demands of the fast paced, dynamic motor industry of today.

Blackburn College’s RATH opened in August, and has revolutionised facilities for students who want to work in the motor vehicle industry. The purpose-built building includes an MOT testing lane, rolling road, open plan workshops, a motor vehicle diagnostic iLab, five classrooms and an IT suite.

The RATH accommodates a range of courses including Light Vehicle, Auto Electrical and Motorsport, which are accredited by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Awards, alongside a range of professional development courses.

The programme supports the college's work with leading North West motor dealerships the Chorley Nissan Group, Bowker BMW, Blackburn Audi and Simpsons Skoda. The funding will enable the college to work with four master technicians, one from each dealership, to deliver industry-based sessions within the classroom throughout the academic year. It is hoped that this employer engagement model will be adopted by the Independent Garage Network.