Hallie Cheung, from Falmouth, previously went to Falmouth School and did the Level 1 in Transport Maintenance at Truro College last year. She started her Level 2, then got a Level 3 Motor Vehicle Service and Maintenance Apprenticeship at Steve Toyer Land Rovers in Penryn, the independent Land Rover specialists who do repairs and vehicle restoration on everything from classic vintage Land Rovers to the latest Range Rovers.
Lucy Perkins lives in Truro and is originally from Bath. She does her Level 3 Apprenticeship at the Blackwater site of the Hawkins Motor Group, Cornwall’s longest-established family-owned car dealership group.
“I’m not a ‘petrol-head’ but I like learning how things work, or why they don’t,” says Hallie, “then working out why something isn’t working and fixing it.
“I was very excited when I got my Apprenticeship. It’s the kind of place I’d like to be. I am learning all aspects of cars, and as I shadow Steve, the owner, and almost everything he does, I am learning everything. I work on old and new Land Rovers and Range Rovers, including doing servicing, brakes, engines, restorations, everything really.
“Working in that environment can be a big jump from College in terms of safety considerations, customer care, and responsibility. The Apprenticeship is very one-to-one. It is ‘visual learning,’ very practical and suits me.”
Lucy says: “I’ve always loved cars. I’ve got a really good Apprenticeship and I have great support there, with encouragement to progress further. There is talk of being supported to go all the way up to Master’s level with the company.”
Ways to study Automotive at Truro and Penwith College include starting with the Level 1 Diploma in Transport Maintenance in your first year after school, then progressing to the Level 2 and Level 3 in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair in your second and third years. These practical courses are full-time at College in purpose-built buildings full of industry-standard equipment and taught by highly-knowledgeable, supportive staff who are industry experts.
Apprenticeships are also a popular option, and students can progress from a full-time diploma on to an Apprenticeship at the next level, as Hallie did.
On an Apprenticeship you gain experience in working with an organisation, gain an industry-recognised qualification, and are paid to do so. They are also a great way to get a full-time job, with Apprentices often securing a full-time position at the end of their Apprenticeship.
As seen with Hallie and Lucy, the College’s strong links with Cornwall’s top employers mean you could be studying one day a week at one of the top Colleges in the UK, working four days a week with one of the top organisations in Cornwall in that field, and have a good chance of securing a full-time role once an Apprenticeship ends.
Both girls have also been reflecting on breaking down barriers and inspiring others:
“People can see others very one-dimensionally,” says Lucy. “But you can enjoy hair and make-up, but then like to get dirty fixing things at other times. If you’ve got the passion and are dedicated, you can do what you want.”
“There are more females in automotive every year,” adds Hallie. “Girls seeing other girls do things will definitely have an impact. I hope to beat stereotypes. I’d like to help give future girls the confidence to do what they want to do.”