Mercedes-Benz has celebrated the achievements of the young men and women who will be leading the drive to keep tomorrow’s vans and trucks out on the road and earning.
The winners of its latest crop of commercial vehicle after sales apprentice awards can now look forward to a week’s work with the MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team in the run up to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Kane Hindmarsh, who is based at the Sheffield branch of Northside Truck & Van, took the trophy for Commercial Vehicle Parts Operations Specialist Apprentice of the Year, while William Stewart, of City West Commercials, Avonmouth, claimed the Commercial Vehicle Technical Apprentice of the Year title – a former trainee with the same Dealer won the corresponding prize last year.
The awards honour those who have gone ‘above and beyond’ at their workplace and at the Mercedes-Benz Apprentice Academy in Milton Keynes, which seeks to provide young people with the technical expertise and in-depth product knowledge that will enable them to deliver outstanding service to customers.
Kane and William were chosen from shortlists of three for their respective job categories, the finalists having been nominated by managers, mentors, assessors and trainers on the basis of their determination, commitment, initiative, and ability to work as part of a team.
All six finalists, their guests, and counterparts from the manufacturer’s Passenger Car Retail Network, were treated to a day to remember – which included an exciting 4×4 Driving Experience – at the Mercedes-Benz World brand centre in Brooklands, Surrey.
David Joyce launched the award-winning Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Programme in 1995. Now Customer Services Director for Mercedes-Benz Vans, he presented the commercial vehicle winners and runners up with their trophies.
“Having begun my own career as a 16-year-old apprentice I have always been a strong advocate of the benefits that accrue to Mercedes-Benz and, by extension, our customers, as a direct result of the substantial investments we make in training our young people,” he said.
“The apprentices whose fantastic achievements we are celebrating today represent the future of our business. They have all demonstrated high levels of engagement with exemplary attitudes and behaviour, while their clear focus and drive to succeed are very impressive.”
Apprentice technicians undertake a three-year course and Parts apprentices one of two years’ duration, with both then completing a ‘finisher’ year at their Dealership. In addition to its high-quality product and practical training, Mercedes-Benz takes pride in the pastoral care it provides to youngsters during their block release study periods at Milton Keynes.
“We are not only teaching our apprentices the functional skills they will need to excel in their jobs, but also helping them to develop as independent, well-grounded young adults able to cope with the challenges that life will inevitably throw their way from time to time,” added David.
Now aged 19, Kane Hindmarsh studied business, IT and engineering at college for a year, before applying to Northside Truck & Van in 2016. “I’d had enough of conventional education and wanted to get out into the ‘real world’ and do something practical,” he said.
“It’s gone better than I could have hoped; I like the people I’m working with and they treat me like an adult. I’ve particularly enjoyed the responsibility of manning the Parts department on my own for a few night shifts and weekends, especially as I think it’s helped to boost my confidence.”
Kane continued: “The course is certainly hard work – there are regular exams to take and assignments to complete – but I love challenging myself and, touch wood, I haven’t failed one yet!”
William Stewart, 21, began his apprenticeship with City West Commercials in 2015, after completing A-levels in geography, physics and product design. “My brother and other friends were all off to university but I wanted to do something that was more ‘hands on’,” he recalled.
“Being able to work on vehicles and strip engines ties in with my interest in engineering, so I certainly don’t have any regrets about the path I’ve taken. There’s been a lot of support from my mentor Joe Shields, while colleagues treat me as a valued member of the team; I feel a lot more mature now than I did when I started.”
William added: “Best of all, this is so much more than just a job. I have a complete career laid out in front of me. It’s up to me now, to make the most of the fantastic opportunity I’ve been given, and that’s something I’m determined to do.”
The Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Academy boasts an impressive 93% completion rate, with 65% of its graduates still working in the manufacturer’s network after 10 years. More than 3,200 young people have undertaken technician and parts specialist training through the programme since it was established 23 years ago.
The six Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Apprentice of the Year finalists were:
Parts Operations Specialist
Winner, Kane Hindmarsh, Northside Truck & Van, Sheffield
Dylan Harris, Euro Commercials, Swansea
Oliver Warrington, Orwell Truck & Van, Norwich
Winner, William Stewart, City West Commercials, Avonmouth
Ben Audsley, Northside Truck & Van, Hull
Christopher Egan, Western Commercial, Bellshill