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Industry celebrates young people

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Influential figures from across the UK automotive industry came together in London today to celebrate the achievements of more than 70 young people in the third iteration of an initiative to enhance skills in the sector.

The ‘Working Assets’ initiative, funded through SMMT’s Charitable Trust and delivered by the Foyer Federation, offers young people who have experienced disadvantage an exciting opportunity to develop their skills in one of the UK’s most vibrant industrial sectors.
Residents of four Foyers across the country undertook work programmes at four SMMT members’ manufacturing operations, engaging in a range of activities to enhance their long-term employability. Hosting the participants were Ford’s Technical Centre in Basildon, Essex; BMW’s MINI plant in Swindon; Toyota’s car factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire; and Unipart Manufacturing in Coventry.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘The UK automotive sector employs more than three quarters of a million people, a number that is growing following significant investments by the industry.
‘Working with the Foyer Federation in the ‘Working Assets’ programme has been a privilege and we are pleased to have been able to offer this unique stepping stone to employment for some of those who have faced challenges in their lives.’
Jane Slowey, chief executive of the Foyer Federation, added, ‘We are really pleased to see this important and innovative programme develop and improve with each year. For the third year in a row, the partnership has offered a flexible and engaging programme to young people which stimulates their interest in the automotive industry and boosts their employability in the process.
‘What is more, the local partnerships we have developed between Foyer and automotive company each go from strength to strength. We are delighted to know they will continue to benefit young people and professionals alike.’
Each young person took on a variety of activities including team-building, exposure to a professional environment in a manufacturing facility, and development of CVs. The projects were specifically designed to engage the participants with the challenges of modern manufacturing, as well as develop their capacity for teamwork – and ultimately, to enhance their prospects for future employment in the manufacturing sector.
In recognition of their achievements, each young person celebrated in today’s ceremony – held at SMMT’s Westminster headquarters – was given a certificate. Also acclaimed were the contributions of the local Foyers, as well as the individual manufacturers, to the success of the scheme.
This year, as an added attraction to young people interested in the industry, the partnership between SMMT and the Foyer Federation expanded activities to running a Pop Up Talent Shop at SMMT’s headquarters in October. Part of the Pop Up Talent programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the Shop mixed over 40 young people with professionals from the automotive industry to apply their skills in taster sessions and find out more about routes into the sector. 

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Paper cut likely to cause disruption

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Motorists are being warned of increased costs or huge queues when hiring vehicles as the government plans to rush-through the abolition of the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence in January 2015

The counterpart, which has been around since 1998, is being axed as part of the government’s drive to reduce red tape and bureaucracy. However, political pressure to speed up the process now means the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is set to renege on its promise to provide the vehicle rental industry with an affordable and workable alternative for checking the counterpart in real time.

There are around 10 million vehicle rental transactions in the UK each year and the majority of rental bookings are approved very quickly and at no cost by checking the driver endorsement and qualification information contained on the driver licence counterpart. Failure to make these checks can nullify insurance cover and potentially result in an unlicensed driver being allowed to rent a vehicle.

If the government proceeds with its plans, the counterpart will be abolished from 1 January 2015 and millions of existing driving licence documents will instantly become out-of-date. The absence of the industry-specific online solution promised by the DVLA will leave rental branches having to use potentially costly or time-consuming alternatives. For example, they may use the agency’s premium rate telephone service or rely on customers sharing access to their online driver records via a print-off or smartphone screen. 

‘Our industry handles more than 10 million vehicle rentals each year and provides a swift and professional service to customers at some of the busiest transport hubs around the UK,’ said BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney.

‘Rushing the abolition of the paper counterpart before the DVLA is ready with a real-time driver checking service is going to cause huge disruption and may result in customers having to pay to have their own driving licence details verified,’ Keaney added.

‘We applaud the government’s attempts to reduce red tape and bureaucracy, but this piece of poorly-timed political point scoring could cause chaos for our industry and its customers during this busy festive season.’

In response, a spokesman for the DVLA said, ‘Timescales for implementation are under discussion, but we can confirm that no changes will come into effect over the busy festive season.’

Following a letter from BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney to the secretary of state for transport, the BVRLA has now secured a ministerial meeting to discuss the impending abolition.

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