Marshall Fleet Solutions (MFS) has hosted an industry-wide event marking the launch of the UK’s first dedicated apprenticeship for the transport refrigeration industry.

Announcing the launch of the scheme at the firm’s Tamworth base, MFS MD Mark Howell (pictured) said it represents “a much-needed replacement for an outdated, complicated setup that contained gaps and often lacked relevance”.

Approved for delivery following a two-and-a-half year process spearheaded by MFS and several partners within an initial “trailblazer” group, the Mobile Transport Refrigeration Technician apprenticeship has been designed to develop all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required in order to install, service and repair transport refrigeration units.

The course can be delivered across the UK on an industry-wide basis, enabling transport refrigeration companies and fleet operators of all sizes to work with training providers to develop their own teams of fully qualified inhouse engineers and technicians.

Taught and assessed in partnership with accredited training providers, the course will typically take 36 months, with an end point assessment (EPA) period of four months.

“With this new programme, we have finally achieved proper recognition of the crucial work being done by the talented people who are ultimately ensuring an uninterrupted supply of food and medicine in the UK,” Howell said.

“I’m grateful to our partners within the industry and education sector for their support in developing this comprehensive apprenticeship standard, and to the government for acknowledging the specific need for such an apprenticeship.”

Members of the apprenticeship trailblazer group include Morrisons, Petit Forestier, Nagel-Langdon, Turners of Soham, Coolmax, Michael Ward Refrigeration, Peter Staines Refrigeration, TIP Group, and Tesco.

Reflecting the widespread support for the apprenticeship, the launch event was attended by transport refrigeration service providers, fleet operators and training providers.

Also in attendance were representatives from City of Liverpool College, who proved instrumental in developing course content alongside MFS and its trailblazer partners.

“We are proud to have partnered with industry to develop this pioneering and much-needed new qualification,” said Lynton Perry, refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sector lead at City of Liverpool College.

“The apprenticeship has a broad appeal extending well beyond school leavers, and including adult learners considering a career change, as well as anyone seeking a flexible working package that fits in with their needs.”

For its own intake, MFS and City of Liverpool College aim to pilot the apprenticeship with up to 10 apprentices starting in 2024.