Nikki King

A new vocational training programme that will lead to a professional qualification for young people looking to enter the vehicle recovery industry is being developed by Isuzu Truck UK honorary chair Nikki King OBE together with the Professional Recovery Operators Federation and the Institution of Vehicle Recovery.

King, who is also chair of the Skills for Life Trust (SFLT) that helps give school children the soft skills they need to prepare for the world of work, works with six schools in the Medway towns in Kent.

“We always talk about the lack of young people coming in to our industry and the big problem is we leave it too late,” King said.

“There is no point talking to them when they are in sixth form. The die is cast and they have chosen their options. We need to reach them when they are 13 or 14.”

“I have always been involved in the recovery sector and Richard [Goddard, chairman of the Professional Recovery Operators Federation] said they were having big problems getting young people into the industry.

“If this works I would like to persuade the logistics sector to do something similar.”

Together with Nick Ovenden, chairman of recovery firm the Ashford Group and a past chair of the Institute of Vehicle Recovery, King took Goddard to one of her SFLT schools Greenacre Academy to meet the boys.

“As a result we created an apprenticeship programme that covers everything from call centre operators to basic maintenance and driving,” she said. “We are currently writing the course and when that is done we will work with the teaching staff to ensure these courses adapt well to education.”

The programme is aimed at years 11 and 12 (15- to 17- year-olds) and the aim is to get it approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education so it qualifies for Apprenticeship Levy funding and also get it accredited as a Level 2 or 3 NVQ. Each module will take one year and will include placements with recovery operators.

The programme is being trialled at two secondary schools, Greenacre Academy and Walderslade Girl’s School in Chatham, and the aim is to get it ready for the new school year starting in September 2020.

“The Institute of Vehicle Recovery has been very positive in encouraging this opportunity and we look forward to rolling it out to all secondary schools throughout the UK,” said Goddard. “We desperately need more young people to enter our industry and working with Nikki I am confident we can achieve our goal.”