Studied : Levels 2, 3 and 4 Apprenticeships in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
Progression : Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technician at West Midlands Fire Service
The West Midlands Fire Service have a long history of investing in their apprenticeship schemes, which has developed out some remarkable talent thanks to their partnership with Walsall College. One of them is David Rooke, a Level 4 apprentice who now has a full-time position with the local brigade as a Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technician.
Having finished a motor vehicle course at another college, David found himself out of work and began his job search online.
“The course in Light Vehicle Work wasn’t much of a challenge. It was quite basic and as it was mostly classroom based, there was no real hands-on side to it.
I had been out of work for a while after I finished the course. I began trawling through the internet without any success, until I found the Level 2 apprenticeship vacancy with the West Midlands Fire Service. So I thought I’d give it a go.”
David progressed quickly from a Level 2 apprenticeship to a Level 3. He then went onto to complete a Level 4 higher apprenticeship, which Walsall College were trialling at the time.
“The College teaches all the basic principles, so when you come into work, you put it into practice and pick up more and more as you go along.
What I really appreciated most about my apprenticeship journey was the support I received from my assessors. They were always there to help, even outside of hours.
My colleagues were of great help too. They have taken the time to take me under their wing and demonstrate how to do different parts of the job that were covered in my lessons.”
During his Level 4 apprenticeship, David applied for a full-time position that was made available at the Fire Service. After a successful interview, he joined the brigade as a permanent member of staff.
“This role is completely different to the apprenticeships I undertook. There is a higher level of responsibility, as you’re not fixing an ordinary truck but rather one that goes out and helps saves lives. It won’t be able to get where it needs to go if it break downs, so it’s on me to ensure it runs smoothly without any issues.”
Having gained enough experience during his 5-year career, David now mentors apprentices on site.
“I now have my own apprentice to mentor, which is really rewarding. It’s great to pass down my knowledge and what I’ve learnt.
It’s a great career to invest in. No two days are the same – you could be at the premises carrying out maintenance checks, or you could be on call. That added pressure to fix things efficiently makes things exciting for me, and I never know what will come up when the following day arrives.”
David now plans to work his way up. “Through my apprenticeships, I’ve realised there are many other opportunities out there. My aspirations went from wanting to be a garage mechanic to aiming towards a management role.
I also feel that my apprenticeships have helped me to become more confident in myself. My communication skills have improved and I have developed my team working skills.”
Steve McCormick, Workshop Manager at the West Midlands Fire Service, said: “David showed himself to be an Outstanding member of the team when he began his apprenticeship. His swift progression from Level 2 to full-time position post Level 4 study is a testament to his high level of skill and maturity. As such, he is someone we would like to retain within our workforce.
For us as an organisation, it is important to invest in young people. I myself started as a technician and was supported through various stages to the position I have now. For the last 20 years, we have worked with Walsall College to fill the skills gaps we have within our organisation and outside industry. Through this partnership, we have had some wonderful success stories including former apprentices who have risen to senior management roles.”