The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has outlined details of its apprenticeship programme for vehicle standards assessors (VSAs), which will allow them to become HGV testers.
The apprenticeship programme is open to all people of all ages and backgrounds from across Great Britain, and is made up of college training, workshop and front line work experience. Industry experience is not required, DVSA says – just potential and an appetite to learn.
“We want to ensure our people have all the knowledge they need to do their jobs brilliantly,” said DVSA.
“We also want to help people starting a career in vehicle testing.”
“So we’ve developed a three-year apprenticeship programme for people who want to take up the vital role of testing heavy vehicles, leading to a Level 3 vehicle maintenance and repair HGV with irtec accreditation.
“The three-year programme is busy and stretches the candidates, but full support is provided.
“Every apprentice undertakes time in a workshop environment to ensure they can complete their qualification in full. We work closely with industry to provide this, which also helps apprentices build the links they’ll need as their career progresses.”
Current apprentices include Tia (pictured above, left) who has almost completed her second year as a VSA apprentice.
“When I applied for this role, I was working in the clothing department at Asda. I’d just finished my A-levels and was unsure of what sort of career I wanted,” she said.
“I wanted to do something that was completely out of my comfort zone, that I would enjoy and take a real interest in… I had no prior mechanical knowledge and the thought of getting a qualification in mechanics had never crossed my mind…
“Now, two years into my apprenticeship, I know it was the best decision I could’ve made… to take the leap and apply. I have learnt so much. And even though it’s had its challenges, it’s been incredibly rewarding. And the benefits that DVSA offer can’t be matched, whether that’s through a great pension, being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance or the opportunities for training and development.”
Tia continued: “I’ve gained a fantastic job opportunity and have made some great working relationships along the way. I know I’ll never have to struggle alone when faced with any problems. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me within this organisation.”
Michael (above, right) joined the DVSA as an apprentice in November 2019.
“Before applying for this role, I’d been a retail assistant for six years,” he explained.
“I had no previous experience of mechanics, apart from owing my own car and undertaking routine maintenance.
“I’ve never been very academic and preferred doing practical things. So, I saw this apprenticeship as an opportunity to gain a recognised qualification whilst getting hands on experience. I‘ve really enjoyed learning about heavy goods vehicles, and my previous lack of experience in mechanics has not been a barrier.”
Michael continued: “As part of the apprenticeship, I’ve attended college for a week every couple of months. I’ve learned there about the different tools that can be used, practical skills in respect of dealing with mechanical issues, as well as the technical background of things like braking and steering systems etc.
“I’ve also worked in a variety of authorised testing facilities (ATFs), under the guidance and supervision of a qualified vehicle inspector. This includes shadowing them undertaking important safety checks and annual inspections.
“Part of my time has been spent on placement with a waste disposal operator, which has included maintaining different types of vehicles.”
DVSA’s apprentice manager, north, Craig Gwillam, added: “The apprenticeship scheme helps us with workforce planning for our vehicle testing team.
“But it also gives people the opportunity to train for a rewarding career in helping protect people from unsafe vehicles.”
Craig’s colleague, Chris Ridley, is enthusiastic about the scheme’s outcomes, adding that joining the vehicle testing team is just the start.
“The experience and qualifications open opportunities for progress within DVSA and the wider industry,” said Chris.