Focus on Skills

4th July 2013. Research carried out by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, the campaigning group dedicated to the preservation and use of historic vehicles, has shown that the industry supporting our historic vehicle
heritage, will need something like 7000 skilled individuals over the next 5 years. However currently there is not a nationally coordinated approach to training in this niche yet economically significant sector. In an article to
appear in the Federation’s forthcoming Newsletter, Trade and Skills Director, Tony Davies argues the case for a more joined up approach to retaining the traditional skills required by the industry and puts forward the notion of a national centre of excellence.

“There are a few specialised courses available in general vehicle restoration and some specialised courses in specific skills like welding, panel beating and others. For the most case though skills are passed on from generation to generation through on-the-job training and apprenticeships and without a formal training structure there is always the risk that some of these traditional skills will be lost,” says Mr Davies in his

The FBHVC vision is the creation of a support infrastructure in skills training and discussions have already begun with Government on cooperation to establish such a regime. The first step to be announced, in a partnership with the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers was the establishment of a national award scheme for apprentices in the Davy Award for Young Craftsman of the Year. Trade members of the Federation have been invited to nominate candidates and the scheme will be formally launched at this year’s Classic Car Show at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. The winner, along with the prestigious title and trophy, will receive a substantial cash award sponsored by the Worshipful Company. Other ideas under consideration are the compilation of a national register of training opportunities which FBHVC would publish to encourage young people to attain skills in vehicle restoration, the establishment of a nationally recognised general qualification, and an accreditation scheme for businesses employing and training specialist skilled craftsmen.

“ All these are ideas for the future,” says Tony Davies, “and as I am stepping down after a six year tenure at this year’s AGM, they will be carried forward by a new Director of Trade and Skills. What is certain however is that there is an urgent need to source the skilled craftsmen of the future and to establish a pipeline of young people to replace those reaching and approaching retirement. We have a world class industry in vehicle restoration and preservation, but it is only sustainable in the long term if we nurture and preserve the traditional skills upon which it is based”